TRENTON – The organization that produced a new report on the number of N.J. children in poverty hopes the data spur lawmakers to action.
“I hope this report brings some reality about the conditions of low-income families,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, whose report, “New Jersey Kids Count 2012,” states that in 2010 nearly one in three N.J. children, approximately 619,000, were in families that earn too little to provide basic needs.
“I hope there is a serious and objective use of this data when we have these kinds of discussions,” said Zalkind today as her organization held a forum at the Trenton Marriott to discuss the report.
Although the report is grim in many areas, it did find some cause for optimism.
* The percentage of children who lack health insurance has dropped from 13 percent in 2006 to 9 percent in 2010.
* There has been a 26 percent increase in the number of children gaining access to NJ FamilyCare/Medicaid.
Still, according to Zalkind, many of these children are in working families who are struggling to pay for food, gasoline, or rent in one of the nation’s wealthiest states.
In that regard, she said, recent efforts in the Democratic-controlled Legislature to consider increasing the state’s minimum wage could certainly help those most in need.
Such people, Zalkind said, have jobs ‘that don’t pay that much’’ to begin with.
In addition, she said they would like to see a commitment to use about $42 million that already exists in the budget for child-care vouchers for before- and after-preschool care be used for its intended purpose.