Who We AreChildren can’t vote. They have no political influence. They can’t tell our state leaders what they need. That’s why we’re here. 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. Our work results in better laws and policies, more effective funding and stronger services for children and families. This means more children are given the chance to grow up safe, healthy and educated. A cornerstone of ACNJ's success is its independence. We are strictly non-partisan and accept no government funding for advocacy, freeing us to focus on our sole mission - helping children.
What We Do
- We Inform. ACNJ researches issues and produces nationally-acclaimed reports to inform policymakers and the public and to advance solutions. Our NJ KIDS COUNT data on child well-being provides critical information to help informed decision-making leads to smarter choices that help more children.
- We Advocate. ACNJ works closely with state and federal lawmakers and policymakers to bolster their understanding and response to the needs of children and families.
- We Build Coalitions. We bring together groups of professionals to develop better practices and quality programs. And we build coalitions of concerned citizens who share a commitment to improving the lives of children and families.
- We Equip Caregivers. Through ACNJ’s KidLaw Center, thousands of parents, caregivers and professionals gain the information they need to be their child’s strongest ally and advocate.
- We Elevate Children’s Voices. With the help of ACNJ, thousands of children have had their concerns, thoughts and visions shared with lawmakers, governors and other state leaders, giving them a say in the decisions that drive their future.
Our HistoryAdvocates for Children of New Jersey’s roots grew out of some of the earliest efforts in New Jersey to protect abused and abandoned children. Originally called the Association for Children, ACNJ is part of an evolution that began in 1847, when the Newark Orphan Asylum was established. Over the years, other child-related organizations were created to care for orphans, children living in foster care and children in troubled families. In 1978, two of those groups – the Citizens Committee for Children and Child Service Association – merged to form what was then called the Association for Children of New Jersey. ACNJ officially changed its name in July 2010. Since its founding, ACNJ has become the best-known, most respected research and advocacy group for children in the state with a reputation beyond New Jersey’s borders. The name ACNJ has become synonymous with its cause – to ensure that every child in New Jersey has the opportunity to grow up safe, healthy and educated. ACNJ began with a focus on child welfare and juvenile justice and has since increased its advocacy to include other important policy areas, including early learning, health care for children and supports for low-income families. In all its work, the organization is known for its responsible research and courageous advocacy.
Our AccomplishmentsInvestments in our children reap results. Not for just one child, but for thousands of children across New Jersey. Changes in public policy can mean the difference between growing up healthy and strong or facing a lifelong struggle to survive. ACNJ’s vision and mission is to help all children grow up safe, healthy and educated so they can become productive adults, contributing to New Jersey’s communities, securing our future and making the state a better place to live. Over the years, ACNJ’s advocacy efforts have resulted in:
- More children receiving health coverage, improving their chances of growing into healthy adults
- More children enrolled in quality preschool programs, helping to ensure school success
- More children receiving a healthy breakfast at school, removing a major barrier to learning
- More children safe from abuse and neglect
- More families receiving the supports they need to feed, clothe and house their children
- More youth diverted from the juvenile justice system and put on the path to productive adulthood
- More parents, caregivers and others understanding children’s legal rights, empowering them to advocate effectively for the children in their lives