Child well-being — where does NJ rank among the states?
🔵 A new report looks at child-well being in all 50 states
🔵 NJ ranks as high as No. 2 and as low as No. 29 in specific categories
🔵 The report focuses on the impact of child care struggles
With more recent figures giving a better glimpse into the coronavirus pandemic's true impact, a report released Wednesday ranks the 50 states based on how well children are doing, both in and out of school.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child-welfare advocacy organization, New Jersey ranks seventh in the country for child well-being.
New Jersey ranked sixth overall in 2022.
To determine the new rankings, researchers looked at 16 key indicators across four broad categories: economic well-being; education; health; and family and community.
A portion of the 2023 Kids Count Data Book is devoted to the push to increase access to and affordability of quality child care.
Between 2020 and 2021, according to the report, 12% of young New Jersey children lived in families in which someone quit, changed, or refused a job because of issues with child care. The state's average cost of center-based care for a toddler was nearly $12,700 — that's about 9% of the median income of a married couple, and 34% of a single mother's income in New Jersey.
“Not only is child care a financial burden for families, but providers are also struggling, balancing high operating costs and the competitive wages needed to sustain quality staff – all while delivering care at a cost parents can afford,” said Mary Coogan, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, the state’s Kids Count grantee.
NJ's child well-being rankings
Across the four categories detailed in the 2023 report, New Jersey posted its best ranking in education — No. 2 out of the 50 states. Still, statistics show that reading proficiency among fourth-graders and math proficiency among eighth-graders was on the decline as of 2022 in the Garden State.
New Jersey ranked fifth in the nation in the category of health, and 15th in the category of family and community. Between 2018-19 and 2020-21, the rate of children who were overweight or obese dropped by a few percentage points. And the state recorded improvement in the teen birth rate and the share of children in single-parent families.
New Jersey's worst showing came in the category of economic well-being. There was a big jump over two years in the number of minors whose parents lack secure employment.