Hunterdon Tops Kids Count Rankings, Salem Comes in Last

May 22, 2013

Contact: Nancy Parello, communications director, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, (973) 643-3876, (908) 399-6031 (c), nparello@acnj.org

View the county profiles, the pocket guide and the state Kids Count report.

Hunterdon County ranked number one out of all New Jersey counties in the overall well-being of its children, while Salem County ranked last, according to the New Jersey Kids Count annual rankings and county profiles released today.

Kids Count compares New Jersey’s 21 counties on 13 measures of child well-being, including child poverty, health, safety and education. Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Bergen and Middlesex were the top five ranking counties, while Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic, Cape May and Passaic were the five lowest.

Hunterdon reclaimed the 1st place spot after being edged out by Morris last year. Salem dropped from 18th last year to last in the state this year. All but one of the bottom five ranking counties – Passaic – are located in South Jersey.

The reasons counties move up or down the Kids Count rankings vary from county to county. Changes in a particular indicator, such as child poverty, in certain counties can affect the rankings of all counties.

“While the rankings shift every year, we see certain trends across many counties, including increasing child poverty, unemployment and high housing costs,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which publishes the Kids Count reports. “These statistics should be used to inform local, county and state leaders, as well as community organizations, in their efforts to improve the well-being of all New Jersey children.”

Although this year’s data once again reveal different conditions for children living in each county, rising poverty persists in all but two counties — Atlantic and Cumberland. Increases in the percentage of children living in poor families ranged from a low of 4 percent in Gloucester County to a high of 129 percent in Somerset County from 2007 to 2011, according to the New Jersey Kids Count 2013: The State of Our Counties, a pocket guide with trend data, which was also released today.

Just one county— Cumberland — experienced a decline in the percent of children in poverty, dropping to 26 in 2011. Despite this decline, Cumberland still had the highest percent of children living in poverty. Atlantic County saw no change in its child poverty rate during that time.

In addition, unemployment rates rose in every county in the state from 2008 to 2012. Warren had the smallest increase at 23 percent, while Atlantic County had the highest jump at 59 percent

“As children and families continue to struggle, it is more important than ever to make sound decisions to improve children’s lives and invest in their futures,” Zalkind said. “The Kids Count data should be used to inform our response to children’s needs and guide investments of our limited state resources.”

In addition to releasing the county rankings and pocket guide, Advocates for Children of New Jersey also released New Jersey Kids Count 2013:  The State of Our Children, which provides state-level data, including a special section on the well-being of New Jersey’s infants and toddlers.

To help counties use the data to address the needs of children, Advocates for Children is hosting Kids Count Regional Forums across the state, bringing together county, city and state leaders with the people in the community who work with children and families.

“These forums are designed to foster discussions about the data that result in concrete action at the state, county and local levels,” Zalkind said. “When we use data to drive critical decisions about responding to the needs of children, everyone benefits — children, families, our communities and our state.”

View the county profiles, the pocket guide and the state Kids Count report.

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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 is a statewide child research and action organization and the New Jersey Kids Count grantee.