Kathryn Carley, Producer
Wednesday, June 14, 2023
New Hampshire ranks first in the nation on measures of child well-being, according to a new report.
The 2023 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation gives the Granite State high marks for economic well-being, education and health, but a lack of affordable and accessible child care continues to impact families and ultimately the state’s economy.
Rebecca Woitkowski, Kids Count policy director for the nonprofit New Futures, said even if families can afford child care, they may not be able to find it.
“Many of our child care providers are low wage earners and there are simply not enough child care workers to meet the demand in many centers,” Woitkowski observed.
More than 40 child care centers in New Hampshire have closed in the last few years, adding to the growing demand for availability. Woitkowski pointed out parents are often forced to miss work or even quit their jobs, while those who can find child care are paying too much of their household income to use it.
Lawmakers are trying to find solutions. Woitkowski noted the recently-passed bipartisan budget bill invests more than $60 million in child care services, including $15 million for the creation of a child care workforce fund and investments in the state’s family resource centers.
“Huge win and a very exciting day when we think about that continued investment that our state really needs,” Woitkowski emphasized.
New Hampshire ranked 4th in education but 7th in the nation for the number of 3- and 4-year-olds not attending school. Woitkowski said New Hampshire is one of six states lacking state investment in universal pre-K programs, which research shows is critical for child development and long-term success.
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