- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The annual Kids Count report says New Hampshire has improved in economic stability and child poverty levels, but is falling behind in teen substance abuse.

The report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation released Tuesday says nationally, New Hampshire has risen from fourth to second place - behind Minnesota - in the national child well-being ranking.

But it tied with six states for the highest number of teens who abuse alcohol and drugs. New Hampshire’s rate of teens who misuse alcohol and drugs remained unchanged from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 at 7 percent. But other states have improved. New Hampshire, ranked 44th, is tied for the lowest ranking with Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, Vermont and Wyoming.

“While we are pleased to see improvements in economic stability measurements such as child poverty and secure employment for parents, we have not matched these gains with critical investments in the health and well-being of our children,” said Ellen Fineberg, executive director of New Hampshire Kids Count. “The Granite State should not be last in the nation for any indicator of child well-being.”

The report found that while child poverty decreased overall in New Hampshire, there has been a slow, steady climb to 10 percent child poverty since 2000, when the rate was just 6 percent.

The report also found the number of children living in high-poverty areas has doubled. In 2013, 2 percent, or 6,000 children lived in areas with a 30 percent or higher rate of poverty. The report says this rate is more than double the previous year, when 1 percent, or 3,000 children lived in high-poverty areas.

The highest rate of child poverty was reported in Coos County, at 21.7 percent. Hillsborough and Merrimack counties recorded the highest number of children living in poverty.

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