Our Policy Agenda

Giving Every Child a Chance to Grow Up Healthy, Safe and Educated.

ACNJ Policy Agenda 2024

Advocates for Children of New Jersey 2024 Policy Agenda

ACNJ's mission is to advance and strengthen policies and programs that promote equitable opportunities for all New Jersey children. Toward this end, we identify needs from parents and community partners, data, research, and policy analysis and address them through education, engagement, and collaboration with policymakers, advocates, and the public.

ACNJ's vision is that all children have the opportunity to grow up safe, healthy, and educated so that they may become productive adults, contributing to New Jersey's communities and making the Garden State the best possible place to live. This means all children and families have equitable opportunities to access safe and nurturing living and learning environments, and high-quality services and programs through economic and nutritional resources, healthcare, and schools.

Since its inception, ACNJ has advocated to ensure that children are safe from abuse and neglect. We also advocated for youth who get in trouble with the law to remain in their communities whenever possible while still being held accountable for their actions and equipped with the skills they need to stay out of trouble and mature into productive adults. Over time, these priorities have expanded to include child health, family economic supports and early care and education.

While ACNJ may shift our focus as needed to respond to more immediate concerns, we remain
committed to the following priority goals:

Parent Engagement
Ensure the voices of parents are listened to, elevated, and prioritized in shaping ACNJ's policy work, recognizing their role as a driving force to improve maternal-infant health and foster high-quality early education. ACNJ acknowledges the importance of strengthening children's early relational health. Fathers, mothers, and caregivers all play a role in ensuring babies have healthy early relationships and experiences that promote healthy development across a child's lifetime.

Early Care and Education
Ensure equitable access to high-quality early care and education to New Jersey children from prenatal to age 8, addressing disparities in access based on race, ethnicity, family income, or location.

Children's Health
Ensure that all New Jersey children grow up healthy with adequate health coverage, equitable access to physical, mental and oral health care, and address the social determinants of health.

Positive Child and Youth Development
Creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships for all children can help children reach their full potential and promote family success. We must promote policies and practices that help to strengthen families, thus reducing the need for child protective services. We must steer students away from the juvenile system by offering better alternatives and diverting those who have committed minor offenses into more constructive enterprises. We need to ensure the safety and well-being of children and youth involved with New Jersey's child protection and juvenile justice systems, equipping them with the skills they need to mature into productive adults. And we need to actively work to reduce the overrepresentation of children and youth of color in these systems.