A different approach to tackling poverty in NJ
New Jersey's approach to tackling poverty has long been to focus separately on children and adults. A new KIDS COUNT policy report released Wednesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation titled, "Creating Opportunities for Families: A Two-Generation Approach" details how the public, private and non-profit sectors should work together to reduce poverty among the 10 million low-income families with young children in America.
"In New Jersey right now, more than half of children age 8 and under live in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment," said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey. "Seventy-nine percent of these children live in families where no parent has an associate degree or higher. Many of the children live in families where the parent does not even have a high school diploma."
According to the report, 28 percent of New Jersey children under the age of 5 in low-income families have parents with concerns about their development, and 17 percent said childcare concerns have affected their job status. These figures are consistent with national data, Zalkind said.
For too long, the nation's approach to poverty has focused on children and adults separately, rather than their combined needs, according to Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
"We've learned a lot about what works in separate areas, but we're not combining these lessons to break the cycle of poverty," McCarthy said in a press release.
The report recommends that state and federal governments expand job-training, educational and career opportunities and adopt policies that give parents more flexibility at work.
"If you are providing assistance, early learning opportunities and child care to children, why not link that more effectively with helping parents work," Zalkind asked.