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Unlocking Potential: Our Ambitious Roadmap to Close Inequities for NJ Babies

In order to give all children a strong and equitable start in life, New Jersey must begin with an intentional focus on eliminating racial inequities and disparities in access to essential supports, according to a new report, Unlocking Potential, released today by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ).

Read Unlocking Potential, A Roadmap to Making New Jersey the Safest, Healthiest and Most Supportive Place to Give Birth and Raise a Family

The statewide plan, funded by the Pritzker Children's Initiative (PCI), provides the action steps needed to achieve concrete targets related to early childhood development with the goal of ensuring an additional 25 percent of low-income infants and toddlers - 27,000 young children - will have access to high-quality services by 2023. These supports include access to quality child care, home visiting, health and mental health services.

Unlocking Potential is based on the belief that we all have a role to play in achieving equity and that supporting equal opportunities at the start of a child’s life is the first step in eliminating disparities that impact outcomes for babies, families and communities. The foundation for change is in place; the opportunity is now!


Child Care is Key to New Jersey’s Economic Recovery from COVID-19


This new report released by Ready Nation, speaks on how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women’s employment, resulting in the lowest rate of female workforce participation in more than 30 years. The lack of child care forced women to leave the workforce when schools and child care providers had to close.  Availability of child care is vital to getting women back into the workforce and key to New Jersey’s economic recovery.

Medicaid Expansion Narrows Maternal Health Coverage Gaps, But Racial Disparities Persist

A new report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families shows that a state’s decision on whether to expand Medicaid has a profound impact on women of childbearing age (18-44). In 2019, across all racial and ethnic groups, women in non-expansion states were more likely to be uninsured than women in states that had expanded Medicaid. New Jersey is one of the states with expanded Medicaid.

Offering affordable, comprehensive and permanent health coverage to those who fall into the coverage gap in non-expansion states is a critical first step to ensuring all women have the support they need to care for themselves and their families before, during, and after pregnancy. Yet CCF’s report found that in both expansion and non-expansion states, disparities in coverage rates between racial and ethnic groups remain. Federal and state policymakers must keep working to achieve health equity in coverage and care.

These findings come amid a worsening maternal health crisis in our country. The U.S. has the highest mortality rate of any industrialized country, and that rate is climbing. We must do all that we can to combat this trend—particularly for Black and Indigenous women, who experience the highest maternal mortality rates, and Latinas, who experience some of the highest uninsured rates of any racial or ethnic group.

Research shows that expanding Medicaid health coverage helps to lower maternal mortality rates and increases access and use of health care among women of childbearing age. Closing the coverage gap is a critical first step to combatting the maternal health crisis in our country and addressing persistent racial and ethnic health inequities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for federal and state policymakers to close the Medicaid coverage gap for women of childbearing age in non-expansion states and to address persistent racial and ethnic health disparities in all states. Permanent, comprehensive health coverage is a critical step to ensuring women have the support they need to take care of themselves and their growing families before, during, and after pregnancy.

11.3% (171,300) of New Jersey Women of Childbearing Age are Uninsured

In New Jersey, Latina women of childbearing age are more than 3.5x more likely to be uninsured than non-Latina women.

2020 Census: Counting Kids in the Garden State

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released the first of the data from the 2020 Decennial Census. These data will allow states to begin the redrawing of voting districts across the country - a reminder of the power of accurate Census data. The August 12th release included data for the total population and the population of adults ages 18 and over. Though the count of children may not be a part of redistricting, child population counts are included in the numbers used to determine funding for important programs like SNAP, NJ FamilyCare, Special Education Grants, school meal programs and more.

Thanks to an interactive dashboard produced by the Census Bureau, we are able to hone in on the child population for all 50 states, and their respective counties. New Jersey saw a decline in its total child population, dropping three percent, from 2,065,214 in 2010 to 2,007,684 in 2020. Though the state saw its overall child population decrease, Ocean, Essex, Hudson and Union counties saw an increase. The remaining counties all saw their child populations decline, with Sussex, Hunterdon, Warren and Monmouth seeing the largest percentage decrease over the past ten years.

New Jersey Child Population Under Age 18, 2010 vs. 2020
County 2010 Child Population 2020 Child Population % Change # Change
Atlantic 63,888 56,541 -11.5% -7,347
Bergen 204,405 200,498 -1.9% -3,907
Burlington 104,243 96,455 -7.5% -7,788
Camden 125,117 116,981 -6.5% -8,136
Cape May 18,349 16,292 -11.2% -2,057
Cumberland 37,705 35,731 -5.2% -1,974
Essex 194,918 202,220 3.7% 7,302
Gloucester 70,261 65,013 -7.5% -5,248
Hudson 131,162 142,103 8.3% 10,941
Hunterdon 30,217 24,927 -17.5% -5,290
Mercer 82,982 82,668 -0.4% -314
Middlesex 185,457 183,153 -1.2% -2,304
Monmouth 150,299 131,945 -12.2% -18,354
Morris 117,695 105,692 -10.2% -12,003
Ocean 134,919 154,629 14.6% 19,710
Passaic 124,613 120,302 -3.5% -4,311
Salem 15,510 14,299 -7.8% -1,211
Somerset 80,835 74,157 -8.3% -6,678
Sussex 35,773 27,776 -22.4% -7,997
Union 131,258 134,489 2.5% 3,231
Warren 25,608 21,813 -14.8% -3,795
New Jersey 2,065,214 2,007,684 -2.8% -57,530

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 and 2020 Redistricting Data Summary files, retrieved from https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/adult-and-under-the-age-of-18-populations-2020-census.html

It is important to remember that this initial data release does not provide information regarding population counts for specific age groups of kids. In the lead-up to the 2020 Decennial Census, ACNJ worked alongside groups across New Jersey to ensure that young children under age five, in particular, were accurately counted. Young children under age five are the most undercounted age group for a variety of different reasons, but most frequently because households do not include their young children as part of their Census responses. We will have to wait for more detailed data and further analysis on other age groups to be released in 2022. Stay tuned as more Census data are released!