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April 20, 2015
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Contact: Nancy Parello, (908) 399-6031(c), (973) 643-3876, nparello@acnj.org

Race for Results: Children of Color Struggle on All Fronts

New Jersey’s black, Hispanic and mixed-race children are more likely to live in poverty, have poorer health, be involved in the state child protection and juvenile justice systems and struggle in school, according to New Jersey Kids Count 2015, released today.

In a special section in this year’s report, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which produces the Kids Count reports, compiled statistics on key measures of child well-being broken down by race. This information is increasingly important as children of color comprise a larger share of all New Jersey children, with nearly half being black, Hispanic, Asian, another race or a mixture of races, the report said.

“It is important to take  a closer look at the well-being of children of different races to inform honest, respectful and widespread public discussion to arrive at concrete solutions that can address the disparities that exist among children of different races,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director, Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

“The statistics in this special section are sobering,” Zalkind added. “They point to an urgent need to formulate public policy and secure investments that can help address these inequities that prevent all children from reaching their full potential.”

High Child Poverty
The report found that the percent of children living in families earning below the federal poverty line, which was $23,550 for a family of four in 2013, increased for all races, except Asian and Pacific Islanders. Those increases were highest among white children and those identifying as two or more races – both rising 33 percent from 2009 to 2013.  

While the poverty rate increased at a slower pace for black and Hispanic children, these children are still much more likely to live in families earning too little to meet their basic needs.  One-third of black children and 29 percent of Hispanic children lived in poor families in 2013, compared to 6 percent of Asian children and 8 percent of white children. Twenty percent of children of two or more races lived in families earning below the poverty line.

Academic Struggles
Black children had the lowest passing rates on 4th, 8th and 11th grade language arts and math tests. Just 38 percent of black fourth-graders passed language arts tests in the 2013-14 school year, followed by Hispanic children at 42 percent. At 82 percent, Asian children had the highest pass rates on this test that same year. All the other racial groups were in the 60 to 70 percent pass range.

While the percent passing varies by grade and subject area, the same basic trends persist, with Asian children scoring highest, black and Hispanic children scoring lowest and other races testing in the middle.

High school graduation rates mirror these trends. In 2013-14 school year, 79 percent of black students graduated from high school, compared to 96 percent of Asian students and 93 percent of white students. Students of two or more races performed better on this measure, with 91 percent graduating from high school on time.

Asian and black children were most likely to be uninsured but the percent of Asian children who lack health coverage declined 25 percent from 2009 to 2013, while the percent of uninsured black children remained the same.

At 12 percent, black children were most likely to be born with low-birth. Infant mortality was also highest among black infants, with a rate of 11 deaths per every 1,000 live births. That compares to an infant mortality rate of 2 for Asian infants and 4 for white and Hispanic babies.

Child Protection
Nearly half – 42 percent – of the New Jersey children in foster care in 2014 were black. That compares to 30 percent for white children and 20 percent for Hispanic children. Other races and children for whom race was undetermined made up the balance of children in out-of-home care.
Nearly half of the children who were in foster care awaiting adoption in 2012 were black, compared to 25 percent being white and 19 percent being Hispanic.

At 12 percent, black teenagers were most likely to not be in school and not working, compared to 2 percent for Asian youth and those identifying as mixed race. Nine percent of Hispanic teens were idle, compared to 5 percent of white teens.

Teen births were highest among Hispanic females ages 15 through 19, accounting for 38 per 1,000 births, followed by black teens at 35 per 1,000 births. This compares to 6 for white teens and 3 for Asian females.

Juvenile Justice
White youth accounted for more than half – 57 percent – of all juvenile arrests, followed by black youth at 41 percent in 2012. However, black youth are significantly over-represented in these numbers since they make up just 14 percent of the state’s child population in the 12- to 17-year age group. Asian youth accounted for just 1 percent of all juvenile arrests that year, although they make up 8 percent of the population in this age group.

Black youth were also much more likely to be held in a county detention facility. In 2013, 65 percent of youth in county detention in 2013 were black.

“Behind every one of these statistics are children who are being denied the opportunity to realize their full potential and grow up to become a healthy, productive and stable members of our communities,” Zalkind said. “We are urging decision-makers at all levels – local, county, state and federal – to make addressing these racial inequities a top priority, recognizing that these children are our future.”

In addition to the special section, New Jersey Kids Count 2015 provides statistics on the well-being of all New Jersey children in key areas, including poverty, health, education, child safety and juvenile justice. ACNJ also released today the annual Kids Count county profiles, rankings and New Jersey Kids Count Pocket Guide 2015.

Click here to view the reports and additional data.


Advocates for Children of New Jersey is a statewide child advocacy organization devoted 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 .

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

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