Good and bad news in report about the welfare of New Jersey kids
A new report on the welfare of Jersey's kids contains good and bad news for the state.
The Kids Count Report, from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranks New Jersey 7th overall for things such as health and reducing teen births and drug abuse.
Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, says "our best performance was in education, where we ranked No. 2 in the country.
"New Jersey has done very well in an overall ranking, but exceptionally well in education. That is I think, in part due to improvements in the percentage of 8th graders who are proficient in math, and the percentage of high school students that graduate on time. In both areas, we have improved."
But the report also indicated New Jersey has room for improvement.
Zalkind says when you break down those numbers by race and ethnicity, you see that both black and Latino children are over represented in outcomes that are not as positive. She says the percentage of children living in poverty has increased, "and the percentage of children whose parents lack secure employment has also gotten worse. I think that attention to those children who are living in poverty or in low income families is something that our state needs to take away from this report."
Zalkind says the one area in which we have improved across the board, is in our health indicators, fewer low birth weight babies, fewer children without health insurance, lower teen death rates, fewer children who abuse alcohol or drugs. She calls those results a positive "that speaks to the commitment that our state has made as a whole to improving health outcomes for children, and we have to stay on that path."
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5.