By Nadia Ramlagan for New Hampshire News Connection
CONCORD — New Hampshire ranks among just 10 states in the nation that saw the percentage of children living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty increase, according to a new report by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Rebecca Woitkowski, Kids Count policy coordinator for the advocacy group New Futures, said the state is experiencing multiple social crises with devastating consequences for children.
"New Hampshire has been in the midst of a substance-use, mental health and child protection crisis for a number of years," Woitkowski said. "So, we might be feeling the negative impact of that."
Growing up in an area of concentrated poverty is one of the greatest risks to healthy child development, according to the report.
The report also states that more than 12 percent of all children in the nation live in neighborhoods where fresh food and quality medical care are scarce, and poor air and water quality are commonplace.
Woitkowski said access to high-quality child care, home visiting and policies aimed at ending food insecurity can help families.
"It's really alarming, and it should underscore the need for lawmakers to focus on child well-being," she stressed.
Scot Spencer, the Casey Foundation's associate state director of advocacy, said despite the economic expansion the country has seen over the past several years, concentrated poverty has worsened in many states.
"No children should be living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty," he said. "The fact that we still have 8.5 million children living in areas of concentrated poverty after multiple years of economic expansion and growth should not be a satisfactory solution for anyone in the United States."
The report also found that African-American and Native American children are seven times more likely to live in high poverty neighborhoods, compared with white children.
The full report can be viewed on the Foundation’s website at aecf.org.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, established in 1948, is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes. The foundation’s work focuses on strengthening families, building stronger communities and ensuring access to opportunity, because children need all three to succeed. The foundation advances research and solutions to overcome the barriers to success, help communities demonstrate what works and influence decision makers to invest in strategies based on solid evidence.
As a private philanthropic organization based in Baltimore and working across the country, the foundation makes grants that help federal agencies, states, counties, cities and neighborhoods create more innovative, cost-effective responses to the issues that negatively affect children: poverty, unnecessary disconnection from family and communities with limited access to opportunity.
New Futures Kids Count is a branch of New Futures focused on collecting and disseminating critical and reliable state-level data, policy recommendations, and tools for legislators, public officials and advocates to advance positive policies for Granite State children and families.
New Futures Kids Count undertakes data projects to ensure that New Hampshire-based data is collected and put to use for Granite State children and families. New Futures Kids Count makes strides to build statewide advocacy capacity in the Early Childhood field by using this critical data to advocate for strong and proven policies for the future health and prosperity of New Hampshire's children.