A Message from Executive Director Cecilia Zalkind
April 24, 2012
NJ Kids Count Paints Picture of Pervasive Poverty
We just released our New Jersey Kids Count report – an annual look at the state of New Jersey children in critical areas – poverty, health, education, child protection and juvenile justice.
What is most striking this year is the persistent and pervasive evidence that more and more families struggle economically. They are families from our cities, our suburbs and our rural areas. They are young adults who can’t find a job. They are U.S.-born children living in immigrant families.
Increasingly, they are working parents who are new to the cold realities of poverty – people who have lost their jobs during the recession and who face an economy that has fundamentally shifted.
No longer is a full-time job with a steady paycheck, health insurance and retirement benefits the norm. For many of these families, the struggle back to solid financial ground will likely be long and painful.
This poverty infects all the areas of child well-being documented in ACNJ’s Kids Count report. Children in poor families are less likely to succeed in school. They are more likely to suffer from health problems because they lack medical coverage. High school graduation is not a given for these children, nor is going to college and landing a decent job.
At the same time, supports to these struggling families have been eroded at a time when it is most needed. Cuts to child care, tax credits and health insurance for low-income parents have frayed the safety net, even as more families need that leg up.
So while we work toward achieving our economic recovery and debate our state’s investments, we must remember that the numbers in this report tell a compelling and sobering story – more and more families lack the resources to successfully raise their children.
We must also remember that behind every number are real children, real families and real lives that hang in the balance. If our state is in the midst of a comeback – and we all hope that it is -- then surely children must be at the beginning of line to benefit from this renewed economic prosperity.
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