2022 Newark Kids Count Data Book Provides Baseline, Shows Preliminary Impact of COVID-19

Catherine Felegi | Advocates for Children of NJ | (973) 643-3876 (office) | (908) 578-8500 (cell) | cfelegi@acnj.org

Newark Kids Count 2022 Data Book Showing Progress, Opportunities for
Children, Families Since Start of Pandemic
Now celebrating its 25th year, the report is starting to show information on the impact of the pandemic on families residing in New Jersey’s largest city

March 22, 2022As the state starts to open up and we return to a new normal, data regarding children and families in Newark are emerging, providing both a baseline on how the city was faring prior to the pandemic, as well as an initial view on the impacts of COVID-19 and the statewide shut-down. Newark Kids Count 2022: A City Profile of Child Well-Being, released today by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ), presents the most recently available information to help educate policymakers and stakeholders as they work to drive positive change for children and families in New Jersey's largest city.

Now in its 25th year, Newark Kids Count Data Book highlights dozens of measures of child well-being at the city, Essex County and state level in the following areas: demographics, family economic security, child health, child protection, child care, education and data relevant to teenagers.

"Effective, relevant data promotes information-driven change from policymakers, advocates and stakeholders in Newark," explains Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of ACNJ. "This report was also affected by the pandemic. American Community Survey data for 2020 were not released due to quality issues. Certain information cannot be compared to prior years or obtained publicly at this point, but we do have the opportunity to examine new areas to track the well-being of children in New Jersey's largest city. We have also introduced new indicators to this report, such as student-to-teacher ratios, allowing us a greater insight into how Newark kids are faring."

Copies of the report can be downloaded by visiting ACNJ.org. Those interested in printed copies can call the ACNJ office at (973) 643-3876, or email advocates@acnj.org.

Newark has made unprecedented efforts to address the concerning, pervasive problem of lead in the community. Though lead exposure continues to be a serious problem, the percentage of children ages 6-26 months with an elevated blood lead level has consistently declined between 2015 - 2019. The city has also made aggressive efforts to address one of the sources of lead - piping. Over three years, Newark replaced 23,000 lead service water lines through a program funded by Essex County. These replacements were provided free of charge to residents. 

The infant mortality rate has decreased in Newark, dropping from 8.1 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2018 to 5.6 in 2019. This trend comes as the state seeks to improve outcomes for new and expectant mothers through the First Lady's Nurture NJ campaign, which includes reducing the infant mortality rate of babies born to Black women and other women of color. More recent data from 2020 show that over 85% of Newark mothers giving birth are receiving prenatal care beginning in their first or second trimesters, an important step in providing support for expectant mothers and reducing the risk of health problems for infants later in life.

The number of children living in foster care is down by nearly 50% in both Newark and New Jersey since 2017, and the number of Newark children receiving In-Home Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) services is down by 58% since 2017. The joint efforts of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJ DCF) leadership, committed staff and adequate funding by the Governor and NJ Legislature have enabled significant reforms to the state’s child welfare system.

"While we applaud the efforts made by Newark, COVID-19 has been devastating, particularly impacting low-income families and communities," said Zalkind. "It will be a long time before we can determine the true effect the pandemic had on the physical and mental health, educational opportunities and overall stability of children, youth and families. We must acknowledge the critical state of child care, and the need to reimagine a system that is struggling to survive. While we are still learning how Newark fared during COVID-19, we do know that the community was adversely affected by wage loss and unemployment."

On March 25, 2020, Governor Murphy signed an executive order requiring licensed child care centers to close. Centers were allowed to resume normal operations on June 15th subject to compliance with COVID-19 health and safety standards. The New Jersey Department of Health provided ongoing, frequent guidance, but centers, already struggling before the pandemic, were closing at an alarming rate due to the inability to recruit and retain staff, as well as the soaring costs. The impact can be seen in data reported on both the supply and capacity of child care centers.

Though data indicate that children in families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), commonly referred to as welfare, have gone down, concern remains that payments are still well below the poverty line, and eligibility requirements may prove to be prohibitive. Conversely, the number of children receiving NJ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increased from 2017 to 2021, indicating a growing need.

“While it has taken an immense toll on our state, the pandemic has presented a unique opportunity to address underlying inequities and strengthen our infrastructure across the board, from healthcare to education. I am hopeful this year’s ACNJ Newark Kids Count Report can help to drive the policy discussions in that direction as we continue efforts to mitigate long-standing disparities,” states Senate Majority Leader and child welfare advocate Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29).

Newark is leading initiatives to improve the city through its Newark360 framework, launched in 2018. Using input from residents, policymakers and representatives aim to use both the data and feedback from the community to create a better, brighter Newark over the next ten years.

"While obstacles still remain, we are hopeful that Newark is making improvements, and are encouraged that officials are working together to support positive changes in Brick City," said Zalkind.

To read the report, visit ACNJ.org.


Kids Count is a national and state‐by‐state statistical effort to track the state of children, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Advocates for Children of New Jersey is a statewide child research and action organization and the New Jersey Kids Count grantee. The Newark Kids Count data reports are possible due to the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Prudential Foundation and the Victoria Foundation.

Advocates for Children of New Jersey | 35 Halsey Street Newark , New Jersey 07102

Questions? Email us at advocates@acnj.org or call us at  (973) 643-3876.

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