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3 NH Counties See Child Poverty Grow To Over 20%

New Data Finds Regional Disparities in Median Household Income, Child Poverty Rates Exceed 20 Percent in Three New Hampshire Counties

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau measuring median household income and poverty rates for the state’s ten counties and municipalities with more than 20,000 residents finds regional income disparities across the state. These new data point estimates for 2016 show median household incomes remaining highest in the more urban counties, while the state’s rural regions continue to experience lower household incomes and higher child poverty rates.

“While New Hampshire has the lowest overall poverty rate among states, this new data shows troubling trends in certain regions of the state,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “Child poverty rates of above 20 percent in Belknap, Carroll and Coos counties make clear that there is much work to be done to ensure economic stability for New Hampshire’s children and their families.”

On a county level, Granite Staters see widely different median household incomes from statewide median of $70,936. The state’s two most populous counties, Hillsborough and Rockingham, help boost the statewide median income, but the least populous county, Coos, has a substantially lower estimate of $47,092. The state’s other predominantly rural counties — Sullivan, Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap — have estimated median household incomes lower than the cluster of more urban counties — Strafford, Merrimack, Hillsborough, and Rockingham.

New Hampshire boasts the lowest statewide poverty rate in the country, at 7.3 percent. Despite these low statewide numbers, the percentage of people living in poverty varies widely by county. The four northernmost counties in the state all have estimated poverty rates of 11 percent or higher, while Rockingham County’s overall poverty rate is 3.6 percent. Manchester had a poverty rate of 14.1 percent, and Nashua’s poverty rate was 9.1 percent.

Relative to the 2015 estimates, Coos and Strafford counties saw statistically significant decreases in their poverty rates, while Belknap County had a statistically significant increase. Belknap County was the only county to have a statistically significant increase in child poverty, while it dropped in Cheshire, Rockingham, Strafford, and Sullivan counties.

NHFPI’s analysis of the October 19 Census Bureau data release is available here.


The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

Granite State Rumblings: Going On Offense Against Child Poverty

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 3.18.35 PMNow that Thanksgiving has passed our attention turns to the holidays of December and the hope of what a new year will bring.

2015 has been a long year for the advocates, organizations, and agencies across the state and across the country who have worked tirelessly to ensure that basic needs are met for our most vulnerable populations. It has been an even longer and much harder year for the children and families who continue to feel the effects of a shredded safety net.

It has been a year of frustration and anger as we watch more of our children slip into poverty, go to bed hungry, and wonder where that bed is going to be tomorrow night. And as December’s cold winds blow through the state we now fear for those who have no place warm to escape them.

I needed the Thanksgiving break to watch some football, spend time with loved ones, eat some great desserts, and reflect on those feelings of frustration and anger. I have regrouped, and reignited the flame that gives me a sense of purpose for this work I do. And now I’m ready to get back to work. That work means playing offense instead of playing defense (stealing some football terminology).

We are good at playing defense when it comes to addressing the difficult challenges that face our state. The primary obstacle we face is not related to a lack of goodwill, but rather to the fundamental way we understand the nature of the problems we face. More times than not, we merely respond to symptoms of a given problem [defense] and don’t pay adequate attention to the problem that is producing the symptoms [offense]. All of which puts the cart before the horse and keeps us from truly moving forward.

Take, for instance, the growing issue of child poverty. When we think about helping those in need (“giving back to those less fortunate,” as the popular adage goes), many of us usually focus on acts of charitable giving. After all it is the season of giving. In the malls we find Christmas trees with cards on them asking for a gift for a child in need. At the grocery store are pre-packaged groceries that we can purchase for a family in need. Charity in its many forms tries to help people who are in need, which is certainly important and worthy of our best efforts.

1-8 NH PovertyBut even more important is figuring out why people are in need in the first place, and then working toward alleviating the root causes of such need (it’s one thing to give food to a person who is hungry, but it’s another thing entirely to eliminate the reasons they are hungry in the first place). While we can of course celebrate acts of charity that take place in our community, the ultimate goal isn’t simply about responding to symptoms, but abolishing the problems that produce the symptoms.

So, don’t you think that at a time when we see the income gap widening, ninety-five percent of the recovery gains since 2009 going to the top 1%, over ¼ of all jobs in the U.S. paying below poverty wages, and child well-being indicators falling in our state, now is the right time for all of us to rally around a set of common goals that will strengthen families and put them on a course leading to economic security?

See our 5 #VoteKids priority areas in the Growing Up Granite Section below.

GROWING UP GRANITE

Many New Hampshire kids are doing fine – but many are not.

Learn why we need to #VoteKids!

  1. Equal Opportunity: 1 in 8 New Hampshire children lives in poverty, and the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to grow.
  2. Family and Work:  67% of children under the age of 6 have all available parents in the labor force, and in New Hampshire child care costs about $984 per month for infants and between $788 (New Hampshire State Fact Sheet, 2015) for toddlers and young children.
  3. Access to Education:  46% of New Hampshire’s 3- and 4- year olds did not attend preschool from 2011-2013. A year of tuition at the University of New Hampshire costs $16,986 plus room, board, books and incidentals $28,000+. The maximum Pell grant award covers only $5,775.
  4. Children’s Healthcare:  12,000 New Hampshire children were without health insurance in 2014 and 85,055 New Hampshire children were enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP in 2013.
  5. Children’s Safety: In New Hampshire, 822 children were confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect in 2013.

Equal Opportunity. Individual outcomes will always vary. But when every child gets a fair shot at success, America’s families, communities and the economy as a whole will benefit. Lifting children from poverty and removing discrimination or other barriers to development and achievement are a key government function. As noted by the eminent researcher and author Robert Putnam, denial of equal opportunity is a dagger to the heart of the American Dream.

Family and Work. Stagnant incomes and workplace practices that pit being a parent against being a provider strain families and harm kids. Working and having a family shouldn’t be so hard. Paid sick and family medical leave, access to affordable childcare and better incomes can help provide the economic security and flexibility that parents need to build their careers and support their families

Access to Education.  Research demonstrates that 80 percent of a child’s brain development occurs between the ages of zero and five. Yet little is invested at the federal level in early childhood education. All kids should have access to high-quality preschool regardless of parental income or where they live. Later in life, a teenager willing to work hard in college to get skills needed for success should not be blocked due to race and should not be burdened with a level of debt more crushing than that endured by any previous generation.

Children’s Healthcare.  More children have access to health care than ever due to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and children’s protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While not perfect, these laws prohibit insurance company discrimination against children with pre-existing conditions, require insurance companies to cover child preventive care, and help ensure families won’t go broke when their child gets sick. Proposed policy changes must detail how children’s protections will be maintained or enhanced.

Children’s Safety. Every child needs a safe environment in their home, school and neighborhood. Preventing child abuse and neglect, as well as minimizing gun violence, a leading killer of children and teens, are top priorities for voters.

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKING CHILDREN, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES A NATIONAL PRIORITY.

Attend Candidate Events

As Granite Staters, we have the unique opportunity to engage with presidential candidates as they make their tours of our first-in-the-nation primary state. This is your opportunity to ask them how they plan to support our kids!

Need help preparing your #VoteKids question for the candidates?

Here are a few examples.

The opportunity gap is identified as the difference between the have and the have-nots. This gap affects a child’s ability to be successful later in life.

What will you do to close the opportunity gap facing children so they have the ability to achieve the American Dream?

Child abuse and neglect costs America $124 billion a year and contributes to poverty, crime, and alcohol and drug abuse.

What will you do to ensure all children are safe in their homes and their communities?

High-quality preschool increases a child’s chances of success in school and life. Children who attend are less likely to be held back a grade or need special education.

What will you do to ensure that every child has access to high quality early learning opportunities?

We know the after-school hours are peak hours for kids to smoke, drink, do drugs and engage in sex; to become victims of crime; and to commit crime.

What will you to do ensure children have access to safe, supervised afterschool opportunities?

12,000 New Hampshire children were without health insurance in 2014.

What will you do to ensure every child has access to the best available medical, mental health and dental care?

Quick Tips on Raising Children’s Issues with Candidates

  1. Find an event. Check out our calendar on our website.
  2. Bring some back-up. While one person can make a big impact at these events, it’s good to have some reinforcement. With more people there, the chances are greater that you’ll get your question(s) asked and even be able to follow up on each other’s questions. But spread out, because if you’ve been called on, it’s unlikely the person sitting next to you will be.
  3. Write your question in advance and practice asking them.
  4. Arrive early to get good seats or places to stand. Up front is always best.
  5. Get the speaker’s attention. If you can, make eye contact with the speaker or the person calling on the audience members for the speaker. Get your hand up first, fast, and high! Don’t wait for the second or third opportunity.
  6. Record! Make sure to get you and your back-up’s questions on record for full quote usage. Videos are great, but sound recordings work just as well.
  7. Get in the handshake line. This line represents yet another opportunity to ask your question. Don’t let go of the candidate’s hand until you have an answer. Use the handshake as a photo op.
  8. Get quoted. Talk to the media and get them to cover your question(s) and the answer(s). Prepare your quote just as you prepared your question. Go to them; they generally won’t come to you. Keep them focused on what you want to talk about.
  9. Let us know what happened! Make sure you let us know what you asked and what the candidate/officeholder answered. If you were interviewed by press, send us a link to coverage or let us know when it’s scheduled to appear.

Granite State Rumblings: New Rankings on Child Homelessness

The following is a compilation of information and direct quotes from the National Center on Family Homelessness, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and an article in the Huffington Post by David Crary and Lisa Leff of the Associated Press.

America’s Youngest Outcasts, a new report prepared by The National Center on Family Homelessness, ranks the 50 states on how they are addressing child homelessness from best (1) to worst (50). The number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to the report.

The National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Department of Education’s latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless pre-school children not counted by the DOE.

Child homelessness increased by 8 percent nationally from 2012 to 2013, according to the report, which warned of potentially devastating effects on children’s educational, emotional and social development, as well as on their parents’ health, employment prospects and parenting abilities.

Carmela DeCandia, director of the national center and a co-author of the report, noted that the federal government has made progress in reducing homelessness among veterans and chronically homeless adults.

“The same level of attention and resources has not been targeted to help families and children,” she said. “As a society, we’re going to pay a high price, in human and economic terms.”

Major causes on child homelessness in the U.S. include: (1) the national’s high poverty rate; (2) a lack of affordable housing across the nation; (3) the continuing impacts of the Great Recession; (4) racial disparities; (5) the challenges of single parenting; and (6) the ways in which traumatic experiences, especially domestic violence, precede and prolong homelessness for families.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of American families become homeless. These families are hidden from our view. They move frequently, and many are doubled-up in overcrowded apartments with relatives or friends. Others sleep in cars and campgrounds or send their children to stay with relatives to avoid shelter life. Once in a shelter, despite the efforts of dedicated staff, life can be noisy, chaotic, and lack privacy. Homelessness increases the likelihood that families will separate or dissolve.

As the gap between housing costs and income continues to widen, more and more families are at risk of homelessness. Even a seemingly minor event can trigger a catastrophic outcome and catapult a family onto the streets.

Families experiencing homelessness are under considerable stress. Homelessness is a devastating experience that significantly impacts the health and well-being of adults and children. Often, members of homeless families have experienced trauma. These experiences affect how children and adults think, feel, behave, relate, and cope.

The report includes a composite index ranking the states on the extent of child homelessness, efforts to combat it, and the overall level of child well-being. States with the best scores were Minnesota, Nebraska and Massachusetts. At the bottom were Alabama, Mississippi and California.

Shahera Hyatt, age 29 and director of the California Homeless Youth Project, was homeless on and off throughout adolescence, starting when her parents were evicted when she was in 7th grade. At 15, she and her older brother took off and survived by sleeping in the tool sheds, backyards and basements of acquaintances.

“These terms like ‘couch surfing’ and ‘doubled-up’ sound a lot more polite than they are in practice,” she said. “For teenagers, it might be exchanging sex for a place to stay or staying someplace that does not feel safe because they are so mired in their day-to-day survival needs.”

Near San Francisco, Gina Cooper and her son, then 12, had to vacate their home in 2012 when her wages of under $10 an hour became insufficient to pay the rent. After a few months as nomads, they found shelter and support with Home & Hope, an interfaith program in Burlingame, California, and stayed there five months before Cooper, 44, saved enough to be able to afford housing on her own.

“It was a painful time for my son,” Cooper said. “On the way to school, he would be crying, ‘I hate this.'”

Executive director Kathleen Baushke, of Transition House homeless shelters in Santa Barbara, said that even after her staff gives clients money for security deposits and rent, they go months without finding a place to live.

“Landlords aren’t desperate,” she said. “They won’t put a family of four in a two-bedroom place because they can find a single professional who will take it.”

She said neither federal nor state housing assistance nor incentives for developers to create low-income housing have kept pace with demand.

“We need more affordable housing or we need to pay people $25 an hour,” she said. “The minimum wage isn’t cutting it.”

The new report by the National Center on Family says remedies for child homelessness should include an expansion of affordable housing, education and employment opportunities for homeless parents, and specialized services for the many mothers rendered homeless due to domestic violence.

But efforts to obtain more resources to combat child homelessness are complicated by debate over how to quantify it.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development conducts an annual one-day count of homeless people that encompasses shelters, as well as parks, underpasses, vacant lots and other locales. Its latest count, for a single night in January 2013, tallied 610,042 homeless people, including 130,515 children.

Defenders of HUD’s method say it’s useful in identifying the homeless people most in need of urgent assistance. Critics contend that HUD’s method grossly underestimates the extent of child homelessness and results in inadequate resources for local governments to combat it. They prefer the Education Department method that includes homeless families who are staying in cheap motels or doubling up temporarily in the homes of friends or relatives.

The bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2014 would fix HUD’s definition to include homeless children and youth who have been verified as homeless by its own homeless assistance programs, other federal programs, and public school district homeless liaisons. It doesn’t cost taxpayers a single penny, and it includes no new mandates. The Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2014 will help over one million homeless children and youth lead safer, healthier lives and have a better chance for a brighter future. And it will help to ensure that the federal government’s response to homelessness is based on an honest and accurate understanding of the problem, and by empowering those closest to the problem to design and implement the best local response.

It is easy for you to Take Action on this important legislation by clicking here.

NH Homeless Inforgraphic

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