How well off are Jersey kids? It depends which county
A child's chances of a healthy and successful future shouldn't depend on their zip code. But, according to an annual report from Advocates for Children of New Jersey, that's the reality for many Garden State children.
The Newark-based agency's report points to stark disparities in child well-being across New Jersey.
The report compares the state's 21 counties on several measures across four domains — economics, health, safety and well-being, and education. Few counties scored well across the board. Many shined in one or two domains but fell flat in others.
"To me, there are some top-line takeaways. The top one to me is that money matters," said ACNJ President Cecilia Zalkind.
The report, for example, shows Hunterdon County posted the highest median income at $152,829 in 2016. The county, in turn, also boasted the lowest unemployment rate, the lowest percentage of K-12 students considered chronically absent, and the best high-school graduation rate in 2017.
Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex and Passaic failed to crack the top 10 of counties in any of the four domains. Only Hunterdon, Morris and Sussex earned top 10 rankings in all four.
While Ocean County ranked 15th for economics and 12th for education, it was third best in New Jersey for safety and well-being, and first for child health.
"Our goal is to inform the conversation about children, whether that's happening in local government or the local community," Zalkind said. "And we hope it also influences our state leaders to take look at what's going well and what needs to be improved."