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July 2015
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NJ Needs to Expand Summer Meals to More Hungry Children
Tens of thousands of children who eat meals at school lack access to healthy summer meals in towns across New Jersey, according to a report released today by Advocates for Children of New Jersey and the NJ Food for Thought Campaign.

In 2014, New Jersey’s summer meals programs reached only 19 percent of the roughly 419,000 children who received free- or reduced-price school lunch in the 2014-15 school year. The national Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) recommends that states serve at least 40 percent of these low-income children. School districts can play a key role by becoming a summer meal sponsor, bringing additional federal funds into New Jersey to feed hungry children.

Read the report.

Senate President Steve Sweeney calls for preschool expansion
At a recent roundtable discussion sponsored by NJ Spotlight, Senate President Steve Sweeney said that preschool expansion was one of his “top five” priorities. Senator Sweeney is widely expected to run for governor in 2017.

“It’s one of the few programs where it is universally agreed we need to invest more,” Sweeney said, adding it should include universal full-day kindergarten as well. “When people see you are investing in the right places, it is attractive for them to come into the state.”

The roundtable – “New Jersey’s Youngest Children: Policies at a Crossroads” -- was aimed at exploring the status and prospects of expanding public preschool and other childhood services. ACNJ Executive Director Cecilia Zalkind participated on a panel with Senator Sweeney, Ginger Gold with the New Jersey Education Association and Sam Crane, director of the Pre-K Our Way Campaign.

“I am certainly excited to hear you say that, senator,” Ceil told the Senator. “I think you are absolutely right, that there has been a lot of support for preschool.”

Read the story.

Legislative breakfast focuses on child care

More than 70 child care directors and staff were joined by about 12 legislators at a Statehouse legislative breakfast that focused on child care issues. The breakfast, hosted by Senator Kip Bateman, highlighted two issues:

•    The need to require family day care providers and certain members of their households to undergo criminal history background checks;
•    The need to increase the child care subsidy reimbursement so that providers, which has not been increased in eight years.

Child care providers spent time discussing the issues with legislators and plan to continue working with them to build support for these critical initiatives.

View the pics.

How are NJ babies faring?
ZERO TO THREE recently released updated State Baby Facts, which tell the story about very young children in each state and the District of Columbia. Baby Facts presents infant and toddler data in the framework of good health, strong families and positive early learning experiences. The snapshots are intended to be used to inform policymakers about the programs that help improve the lives of infants, toddlers, and their families. ZERO TO THREE has also provided a toolkit to use the fact sheets to influence decision-makers.

View the fact sheets and toolkit

Parents needed for focus group on family leave

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is launching the New Jersey Parenting Project to learn how the state’s Family Leave Insurance (paid leave) program is working for parents. As part of this project, discussion groups, called “focus groups,” will be held in Newark, Camden and Trenton to bring together parents to talk about their experiences balancing work and family after the arrival of a new child.

Project administrators are seeking any new parents in NJ to talk about their experiences. Parents will be paid $100 for just two hours. If you or someone you know may be interested, please call 1-888-245-9988 to see if you’re eligible.

Learn more.

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

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