Child Well-Being Data Profiled for Town of Derry

The kids are all right. But it depends where they live. The Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire has released its Kids Count Data Book. The document is the result of a survey of 14 New Hampshire communities, assessing the health, education, safety and economic security of children, youths and their families.

The data was distilled into 24 indicators of child well-being, Lindsay Crete, communications coordinator for the Alliance, said. Derry was one of the communities profiled. Other towns and cities profiled included Berlin, Claremont, Concord, Conway, Dover, Keene, Laconia, Lebanon, Manchester, Merrimack, Nashua, Rochester and Salem.

Some of the data in the 2012 Kids Count book includes the following:
• All but one of the high schools serving the 14 communities profiled had students with rates of obesity higher than the state average.
• Two-thirds of the high schools profiled in the book have high school dropout rates higher than the state average.
• The average rate of bullying in New Hampshire schools is higher than that of the nation overall and more than one-half these schools report rates higher than the state rate.
Crete said the Children’s Alliance is the state arm of the national Kids Count program. Its mission, she said, is to compile data and look at the health, safety, educational needs and general well-being of New Hampshire children.

Last year the Alliance profiled children’s well-being in the state’s 10 counties, she said, adding, “This year we decided to focus on the towns, to determine, ‘Does place make a difference’?”
It does, Crete said. The communities chosen were ones with populations of 25,000 or more, she said, along with some rural communities.

The difference between them was “remarkable,” she said. While New Hampshire as a whole is “doing well” by its children and was named the best state for children by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there are variables, Crete said. The North Country, traditionally the poorest part of the state, has a large number of “free and reduced” lunch clients. But so do Nashua and Manchester, in the wealthier southern tier, she said.

There are higher dropout rates in the north, while Manchester and Nashua have the lowest dropout rates of the towns surveyed, she said. The project used data from 2010 and 2011. Some of the Derry research results include the following:
• Limited English Proficiency. Of 6,724 school-age children in Derry, 78 or 1.16 percent had limited English proficiency.
• Single-parent homes. Of 4,393 families with children, 1,326 were single-parent homes. Of those, 927 had a female head of household, or 70 percent, and 399 had a male head of household, or 30 percent.
• Unemployment rate. In 2007 Derry had a 4 percent unemployment rate, compared with 6.1 percent in 2011.
• Free and reduced lunch. Children enrolled in school, 6,324; eligible for “free and reduced,” 1,247 or 20 percent.
• Receiving SNAP (food stamps). 463 homes in 2007, 828 in 2011.
• Adult commute. Average total 30.4 minutes; 11 percent, 10 minutes; 41 percent, 10-20 minutes; 48 percent, 30 or more minutes.
• 2011 NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) results. Grade 4, proficient or above, reading, state average 78 percent, Derry 79 percent; math, state 76 percent, Derry 82 percent. Derry, Keene and Salem scored above the state average on both reading and math.
• Fall 2011 eighth-grade NECAP. Proficient or above, state average reading, 81 percent, Derry 85 percent; state average math, 67 percent, Derry 70 percent.
• High school dropout rate. Pinkerton Academy, the semi-private Derry high school where Derry students are tuitioned, had 3,169 enrolled and 42 drop-outs, or 1.32 percent. State dropout rate was 1.19 percent.
• Children born with low birth weight. Derry, 1,046 births, 80 low birth weight or 7.6 percent.
• Infants born with high risk. Derry, 1,046 births, 22 high-risk or 2.1 percent.
• Homeless children. 31 total or 0.5 percent in 2011-12. Of those 31, 27 lived with another family, three lived in a hotel or motel, one was not sheltered and zero stayed in shelters.
• Juvenile arrests, 2010. 324 total, six under 12, 53 ages 13-14, 265 ages 15-17. 4.0 per 100 children.
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