New Data Shows Positive Progress, Opportunities for Growth to Support New Jersey's Babies
Max Samis | ZERO TO THREE | (202) 857-2658
Catherine Felegi | Advocates for Children of NJ | (973) 643-3876 (office) | (908) 578-8500 (cell) | email@example.com
New Data Shows New Jersey Still Has Work to do to Support Babies Families with infants and toddlers, particularly in underserved communities, continue to struggle in the absence of strong national policy agenda
Embargoed until May 3, 2022 - New data released today shows babies in New Jersey and across the country continue to struggle in the absence of responsive policies from our local and national leaders. Despite New Jersey’s ranking as a top state for babies, children living in families with low income and children of color still face daunting obstacles, created in large part by structural racism and inadequate wages that make it difficult for them to reach their true potential.
The State of Babies Yearbook: 2022, released today by national early childhood development nonprofit ZERO TO THREE, comes at a critical time in our nation’s response to families struggling amid the economic fallout from the ongoing public health crisis. Every parent and caregiver wants to give their child a strong start in life, but the State of Babies Yearbook makes clear that families with young children have long lacked the supports that would help in times of crisis or calm. The report compiles 60 indicators that affect the well-being of children prenatal to three and provides an in-depth look at national and state-by-state progress across three policy areas: Good Health, Strong Families, and Positive Early Learning Experiences.
Though New Jersey was among 12 states across the United States to earn a top ranking, the State of Babies Yearbook: 2022 shows that some of the littlest New Jerseyans still face big challenges, and that effective policies and programs in New Jersey can make a difference in their ability to reach their full potential. The Yearbook highlights areas where New Jersey can do better for its babies.
“Though all babies are born with unlimited potential, opportunities for New Jersey’s babies to grow and flourish are not shared equally,” shared Miriam Calderón, Chief Policy Officer at ZERO TO THREE. “These findings show that disparities facing babies of color and babies in families with low income are draining our nation’s future potential and leaving parents to fend for themselves. Without immediate action, our policymakers’ longstanding failure to enact powerful family-centered policies and programs will have lasting effects on children, their families, the state of New Jersey, and our nation. As advocates for babies, we must push for policies that we know will address the barriers our children face.”
“New Jersey ranking above national average in all indicators in the most recent State of Babies Yearbook is reflective of the hard work of advocates and stakeholders across the state,” states Cecilia Zalkind, President and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ). “Since 2018, our Think Babies Coalition has collaborated with various stakeholders to ensure that New Jersey’s youngest are a top priority in state decisions. We are proud that New Jersey is the second state in the nation to enact a universal home visiting program available to all families welcoming a new baby as well as the second state to extend post-partum Medicaid coverage to new mothers for 12 months following birth. The First Lady’s Nurture NJ initiative is raising awareness and tackling our staggering Black maternal mortality rates. Governor Murphy’s preschool expansion has given thousands more 3- and 4-year-old the opportunity for a strong start in school. But we acknowledge that there are still opportunities for growth. Forty percent of New Jersey municipalities are considered child care deserts, which predominantly impacts low-income communities. Parents cannot afford the high tuition centers need to charge to stay afloat, and babies are facing the consequences. Through our Reimagine Child Care campaign, ACNJ is calling on the state to invest in our earliest learners and close the gap for children where child care is unattainable and unaffordable. Recent legislation, such as Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz’s package of bills that would create a sustainable early education system for children ages 0 to 5, would help bridge this divide. The data is clear – in order to give children the opportunity to thrive, we need to start with babies.”
Decisions that affect babies and families happen at all levels of government. ACNJ has joined ZERO TO THREE and more than 70 other national and state organizations to amplify the Think Babies message nationally and elevate the importance of the first three years in New Jersey. On May 17, they will join families and babies from all 50 states and DC to urge Congress to boldly invest in our future as part of the national Strolling Thunder(TM) event. From May 23-27, New Jersey will have its own Strolling Thunder event, with parents meeting with state legislators to share their stories of what needs to be done to make New Jersey the most supportive place to raise a family.
About ZERO TO THREE: ZERO TO THREE works to ensure all infants and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development. Since 1977, the organization has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers. For more information, and to learn how to become a ZERO TO THREE member, please visit zerotothree.org, facebook.com/zerotothree, or follow @ZEROTOTHREE on Twitter.
About Think Babies(TM): ZERO TO THREE created Think Babies to make the potential of every baby a national priority. When we Think Babies and invest in infants, toddlers, and their families, we ensure a strong future for us all. Learn more at thinkbabies.org or follow @ZEROTOTHREE on Twitter.
About Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ): Advocates for Children of New Jersey’s work over 40 years as an independent non-profit organization has resulted in better laws and policies, more effective funding and stronger services for children and families, giving more children a chance to grow up safe, healthy and educated. We work closely with state and federal lawmakers and policymakers to bolster their understanding and response to the needs of children and families. To learn more, visit acnj.org
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