New Hampshire slips in its national Kids Count rating but stays in the top 10 states 

Monitor staff
Published: 6/20/2016 11:38:27 PM

New Hampshire slipped from second to fourth place in the national Kids Count ranking, according to new data released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Granite State maintained its spot in the top 10 states in the country in the report, which measures the well-being of kids. The report takes four different indicators into account, including economic well-being, health, education and family and community.

Minnesota, Massachusetts and Iowa were the top three states, followed by New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont.

New Hampshire ranked in the top 10 states for every category except health. It fell to 25th place from its previous ranking of 17th in health.

The percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment and those who are living in poverty also rose slightly from 2008 to 2014, which New Hampshire Kids Count Director Amy Bourgault said is a concern.

As of 2014, there were 34,000 children living in poverty in New Hampshire and 64,000 children whose parents don’t have a secure job.

“When (kids) don’t have a solid beginning, it just transfers into problems later in life,” Bourgault said. “It seems the job market is a factor and livable wage.”

The factors Annie E. Casey researchers looked at in health included the percentage of babies born with a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds), the percentage of children without health insurance, child and teen deaths and teens who abuse alcohol or drugs.

Even with New Hampshire’s highly publicized opioid and heroin crisis, Bourgault said the report’s numbers from 2014 show teen drug use on the decline, going from 9 percent in 2008 to 6 percent in 2014. However, it is possible that number could change with next year’s report.

The state claimed the top spot nationwide in the family and community category, which examines things including the percentage of children in single-parent homes, teen births, children living in high-poverty areas and children living in families where the head of the household lacks a high school diploma.

The state’s teen birth rate has improved since 2008, but the percentage of children in single-parent families has risen from 25 to 31 percent in that amount of time.

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

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