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September 17, 2015
For Immediate Release
NJ Child Poverty Drops; More Children Insured
After rising steadily for years, the number of New Jersey children living in poverty decreased in 2014, according to U.S. Census data released today.
The one-year decline – from 2013 to 2014 -- was seen at three levels of poverty – extreme poverty, families with income below the federal poverty line and low-income families.
Children living in extreme poverty – defined as half of the federal poverty level – saw the sharpest decline at 8 percent, followed by a 5 percent drop in the number of children in families earning 100 percent of the poverty level. The number of children living in low-income families – two times the federal poverty level -- fell 2 percent.
In 2014, the federal poverty level was $23,850 for a family of four.
The census data from the American Community Survey also served up more good news for New Jersey children. The ranks of uninsured children continued to shrink, dropping to about 92,000 children – a 26 percent decrease since 2010.
“This is a bit of good news for New Jersey children,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director, Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “After years of growing child poverty, this 1-year decline is a welcome relief from this damaging trend.’’
Zalkind noted, however, that the number of children living at the poverty level in 2014 was still sharply higher than in 2001 when it was at its lowest level in the new millennium. In 2001, 209,000 children were in poverty, compared to 316,000 in 2014.
“While this can be viewed as a step in the right direction, we have a lot of work to do to address child poverty that has shown alarming growth over the years,’’ Zalkind added.
Despite statewide declines in child poverty, some counties experienced significant increases from the prior year, including many traditionally wealthy areas.
“This highlights the need to ensure that these counties with traditionally low poverty receive the resources to respond to the needs of a growing number of families who are struggling to make ends meet,” Zalkind said.
The decline in uninsured children is largely due to New Jersey’s expansion of NJ Family Care and Medicaid, which has enrolled thousands more children in recent years.
“This has been one of New Jersey’s greatest success stories,” Zalkind said. “We should continue this progress until every New Jersey child has access to quality healthcare.’’
Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) works with local, state and federal leaders to identify and implement changes that will benefit New Jersey’s children. www.acnj.org