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ACNJ Press Release

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For Immediate Release
May 21, 2018

CONTACT: CONTACT: Lana Lee, (973) 643-3876 (office) |(609) 651-5855 (cell)  | llee@acnj.org

More than 150 babies rally at the New Jersey State House for Strolling Thunder NJ
Think Babies event puts babies on the public agenda

More than 150 babies and their families from across New Jersey gathered in front of the State House in Trenton today for Strolling Thunder New Jersey, a rally to remind policymakers that success for our children begins at birth.

LINK TO PHOTOS: https://bit.ly/2GFAhpM

Organized by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ), Strolling Thunder is the flagship advocacy event of the Think Babies™ campaign, part of a national effort designed to bring attention to the many issues that affect what babies and families need to thrive.

The event underscored the importance of the early years and the need to ensure access to quality child care, supports for new parents and healthy starts for all babies.

“Babies can’t talk or tell us what they need. That’s why we need to make noise and raise our voices for our youngest children,” said ACNJ president and CEO Cecilia Zalkind. “We want state leaders to know that the decisions they make in Trenton can set the trajectory for some New Jersey children to learn and thrive, while others struggle and fail to reach their potential.”

ACNJ partnered with child care providers and other advocacy groups to mobilize families to Trenton, including the United Way of Northern New Jersey. 

"United Way's ALICE research shows that child care is the most expensive item in a family's budget, even more than housing,” said Michelle Roers, their Director of Education. “The formative years of a child's life are ones of highest potential and greatest vulnerability. Our state's future success is directly tied to how we prepare our next generation of workers."


  • A child’s brain grows fastest between the ages of 0-3 than at any later point in life, forming more than a million new neural connections every second.
  • New Jersey is home to more than 300,000 children under age 3, with 66 percent living in families where all parents work. That’s more than 200,000 babies that rely on child care.
  • New Jersey has the third highest infant mortality disparity rate. In 2015, infants born to black women were more than three times as likely to die before their first birthday (9.7 deaths per 1,000 live births) compared to those born to white mothers (3.0 deaths per 1,000 live births).
  • Young children develop best when they spend time with their parents during their formative years, but in 2016, fewer than half of all working parents accessed family leave benefits they were eligible to receive for bonding time.

Earlier this year, New Jersey was selected as one of six states for the national Think Babies™ campaign, with ACNJ leading the statewide effort. Supported by the national nonprofit ZERO TO THREE, the campaign aims to make the potential of every baby in New Jersey a priority in 2018 and beyond.

“We’re so glad to have New Jersey be part of this national movement to put birth to three on the public agenda,” said ZERO TO THREE Executive Director Matthew Melmed. “A crowd of babies in strollers at the State House is a great way to put this issue at the forefront of legislators, reminding them that babies need a strong start for healthy growth and development.”

ACNJ is working closely with ZERO TO THREE in the coming months to develop and implement campaigns that advance policies benefiting infants and toddlers. Areas of focus include:

  • Increasing access to affordable, quality child care for infants and toddlers;
  • Strengthening New Jersey’s paid family leave policies providing full or partial replacement of wages after birth or adoption;
  • Increasing access to infant and early childhood mental health services;
  • Increasing access to voluntary, evidence-based home visiting for families with infants and toddlers;
  • Increasing access to child and family screenings, supports and linkages to needed services; and,
  • Increasing access to healthy nutrition and obesity prevention initiatives for infants and toddlers.
  • Additional information on New Jersey's Think Babies campaign and other activities can be found at acnj.org.


ACNJ is a proud partner of the national ZERO TO THREE Think Babies Campaign and The Right From the Start NJ Campaign, which is in collaboration with the Turrell Fund, The Nicholson Foundation and the Caucus Educational Corporation.



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