On Monday, December 12, 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. 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.
ACNJ President/ CEO Cecilia Zalkind explains that Kids Count began as a small project in 1991 with 12 measures of child well-being and gradually evolved into ACNJ’s signature publication and a catalyst for change for thousands of children.
Keynote speaker Jennifer Velez, senior Vice President for RWJBarnabas Health, shared that Kids Count is a seminal tool for decision makers. “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,” she said.
In a video message, 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.