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For Immediate Release
March 27, 2018
CONTACT: Lana Lee, (973) 643-3876 (office) |(609) 651-5855 (cell) | email@example.com
Newark children twice as likely to be lead poisoned as children statewide, Newark Kids Count reports
Despite Newark’s progress in reducing the number of children with elevated blood lead levels, nearly a quarter of all tested Newark children under 6-years-old still have some harmful levels of lead in their blood, according to the 2018 Newark Kids Count released today.
“Newark has both key risk factors for lead exposure – high rates of child poverty and high numbers of homes built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned. Lead exposure can cause lifelong harm including learning disabilities, behavior issues as well as damage to children’s physical health,” said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which produces the annual data report on child well-being. This year’s report featured a special section on childhood lead exposure in the city.
There has also been little to no movement in Newark’s rate of investigating and removing lead from homes, which pales in comparison to other local health departments with high caseloads and similar demographics.
“That is why there is an urgent need to help families fight lead exposure before it begins. An effective lead prevention strategy requires strong collaboration among city officials, health care providers, community leaders and families to use data and target areas with high concentrations of older housing. This cannot be done without an extensive targeted investment to end lead poisoning," said Peter Chen, ACNJ policy counsel.
In 2016, Newark completed 16 percent of home investigations while cities like Plainfield, Jersey City, Irvington, Paterson and Trenton completed nearly all or 100 percent of their investigations. That same year, no abatements were completed in Newark out of the 14 cases which were required by the city.
Disparities remain in the rate of testing and children tested with elevated blood lead levels among neighborhoods. For instance, in 2015, only 40 percent of children under age 6 living in the West Ward’s Ivy Hill and Vailsburg sections were tested for lead, the lowest percentage throughout the city. In addition, 8.7 percent of these tested children had elevated blood levels, compared to 2.2 percent of tested children living in the Ironbound section.
On a positive note, Newark Kids Count reported fewer expectant mothers receiving late or no prenatal care at 34 percent in 2015, compared with 39 percent in 2011. And the number of families participating in state-funded home visitation programs grew from 299 families in 2014 to 347 in 2017. These regular visits from a nurse or other health professional help nurture positive parent-child relationships as well as resources and support.
Other Newark KIDS COUNT findings:
In an effort to highlight the needs of young children in Newark and statewide, ACNJ was recently selected to represent New Jersey in the national Think Babies campaign, supported by the early childhood advocacy group ZERO TO THREE. Key campaign priorities include: quality, affordable child care; time for parents to bond with their babies; healthy emotional development; and strong physical health and nutrition.
KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Follow Annie E. Casey Foundation on Twitter @aeckidscount and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KIDSCOUNT.