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Monday, December 12, 2016
For Immediate Release
U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Former Health Commissioner Jennifer Velez help celebrate ACNJ's 25th Anniversary of Kids Count in New Jersey
NEWARK, N.J.— Today, Advocates for Children of New Jersey celebrated 25 years of producing its annual Kids Count report which measures the progress of child well-being in the Garden State. Held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the event featured keynote speaker Jennifer Velez, former commissioner of the state department of Human Services and honored ACNJ’s founding board members Stuart Grant, Gail Houlihan, and Margaret McLeod.
“What began as a small project in 1991 with 12 measures of child well-being gradually evolved into ACNJ’s signature publication to highlight the needs of kids across the state. We know that it has been a catalyst for change for thousands of children,” ACNJ President/ CEO Cecilia Zalkind said.
In addition to the state report, ACNJ publishes an annual pocket guide with county-level data and an annual Newark report. Other city reports have included Camden, Trenton and Paterson.
“Kids Count is the seminal report for any governor, legislator or policymaker to utilize and be guided by when considering policy or budgetary changes that affect children. The report holds up a mirror to all of us in and outside of government to see whether the investments that we are making for children are really making a difference and paying off,” Velez, who now works as a senior Vice President for RWJBarnabas Health said.
In a video message delivered at the event, U.S. Senator Cory Booker explained how during his tenure as mayor of the City of Newark, he relied on Kids Count every year to measure the success of how well the city was taking care of its children.
“I know personally how powerful this tool is, not just for holding leaders accountable, but for also helping us focus our work and our energy in a productive way,” Booker said.
Kids Count is a national and state‐by‐state statistical effort to track the state of children in the United States, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) is a statewide child research and action organization and the New Jersey Kids Count grantee.