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March 10, 2015
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Contact: Cecilia Zalkind, (973) 643-3876, email@example.com
Report: Newark kids healthier, poorer
Newark children are getting healthier, more children are attending preschool and more teenagers are graduating from high school, but Newark families continue to struggle to make ends meet, according to a report released today.
Newark Kids Count 2015, an annual portrait of child well-being in New Jersey’s largest city, found that progress has been made, especially in key health areas, including fewer babies born with low birth weight, fewer infant deaths and a corresponding increase in early prenatal care.
The rate of births to teens is also on the decline, as are juvenile arrests and the number of youth held in juvenile detention. More children were enrolled in preschool, while high school graduation rates are inching up.
“This is encouraging progress and demonstrates that when we pay attention to problems, we can improve outcomes for children,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which publishes the annual child well-being survey.
In this year’s report, ACNJ published a “better” and “worse” list that shows more measures have improved than gotten worse. Still, most of the areas where conditions have worsened involve the economic health of families – a key predictor of children’s future success.
Pervasive poverty persists, with nearly three quarters of Newark’s children living in families who earn too little to pay the rent, buy food and afford quality child care. Twenty percent of these children lived in extreme poverty – just $11,775 for a family of four – an 18 percent increase since 2009.
Median income for Newark families declined to $27,168 in 2013 – about one-third of the statewide median income of $85,248. While struggling to subsist on meager wages, more than half of Newark renters also paid more than the federally-recommended 30 percent of income on rent – leaving little for other necessities.
“When parents cannot make ends meet, their children suffer,” Zalkind said. “To help the children, we have to focus on helping parents and caregivers to secure jobs that pay a living wage.”
“This 'two-generation' approach is being advanced on a national level and we in New Jersey should embrace it in our struggling communities, including Newark,” Zalkind added.
Initiatives that target job training, child care assistance, educational supports, paid sick leave and tax credits can help Newark parents have the tools they need to raise healthy children who grow up to be productive members of our communities, Zalkind said.
“All Newark parents need secure, well-paying jobs that allow them to adequately support their families,” Zalkind said. “They need quality, reliable child care, good schools and safe communities. Only when this vision has been realized across the city can we say that all Newark children are being given the chance to grow up safe, healthy and educated.”
Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan child research and action organization dedicated to ensuring that every child has the chance to grow up safe, healthy and educated. ACNJ is the Kids Count grantee for New Jersey.
KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more information visit www.aecf.org .