Lana Lee | Advocates for Children of NJ | (609) 651-5855 (cell) | email@example.com
New Kids Count Report Highlights Well-Being of Trenton Children, Community Groups Coming Together to Improve Child Outcomes in the Capital City
TRENTON, NJ – (Jan 25, 2023) Children and families in the state’s capital city are making gains in economic well-being -- with a drop in child poverty rates and an increase in median household income -- the latest Trenton Kids Count report from Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) finds.
Read Trenton Kids Count data report
More progress is needed, though, to reach average Mercer County and statewide levels of well-being. Trenton Kids Count 2023 reports a significant drop in the percentage of Trenton children in extreme poverty, from 22% in 2011-2015 to 16% in 2016-2020. The statewide rate is 6%. Median yearly income for the city’s families with children rose slightly to nearly $35,000 during that period -- still well below the state’s median income of nearly $107,000.
“Behind the numbers are local on-ground efforts to improve the well-being of children amid increased stress, economic hardship, food insecurity, and health challenges,” says Mary Coogan, president and CEO of ACNJ. “Four years ago, we released our first Trenton Kids Count in over two decades, providing a benchmark to measure progress. Life in the state’s capital city is certainly improving and I am especially hopeful that, with community groups coming together, we can come up with some bold and intentional solutions to improve outcomes for children.”
Community assets highlighted in the report include:
- Community doulas playing an integral role in improving maternal and infant health, thanks to TruDoulas of New Jersey and the AMAR Community-based Doula Program at the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey
- In-home, postpartum nurse visits, providing compassionate care and helpful resources through Family Connects Mercer County
- Oral healthcare and education, serving thousands of Trenton children through the KinderSmile Foundation’s Community Oral Health Center
- Corrective eyecare services that include providing glasses free of charge for children who require vision correction, through the Henry J. Austin Health Center’s partnership with Vision to Learn
- A residential program for high school girls called HomeWorks, where scholars live together in a dorm from Sunday to Friday and receive academic and identity-driven leadership enrichment activities
- Meeting students’ mental health needs, with training on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma-informed care, healing-centered engagement, and Youth Mental Health First Aid for teachers, administrators, school staff, and families through the Foundation for Educational Administration
- The Trenton Community Street Teams (TCST), a community-based violence intervention and prevention initiative designed to eliminate the cycle of violence in Trenton by treating the issue as a public health crisis
Trenton Kids Count 2023 offers five-year data trends for children and their families in demographics, family economic security, child health, child protection, child care, education, and information regarding teens. Due to the impact of the pandemic on data collection, the report uses American Community Survey five-year estimates as well as one-year estimates.
“Data is power,” says Atiya Weiss, executive director of the Burke Foundation, a co-funder of the report with the Smith Family Foundation and Princeton Area Community Foundation. “Trenton Kids Count 2023 enables informed advocacy for policies and priorities to transform the lives of children and families.”
In a city where half of births are to mothers born outside the US, community doulas and in-home nurse postpartum visits play an integral role in narrowing maternal and infant health disparities along racial/ethnic lines. Since 2017, the number of deliveries by nurse midwives has gradually increased in Trenton and the number of births delivered by medical doctors has gradually decreased.
Consistent with state and county trends, fewer babies in Trenton were born with low birth weights and the city’s infant mortality rate declined. But data disaggregated by race show deep disparities remain: Trenton experienced a rate of 9.9 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births, but when compared to Trenton babies born to Black mothers, the rate was 13.8 – more than triple the overall statewide rate of 4.3.
During the 2020-2021 school year, Trenton saw a steep drop in preschool enrollment at the same time many child care centers closed due to the pandemic. Enrollment bounced back the next school year but still is below pre-pandemic levels.
“We’ve seen a sharp decrease in the number of juvenile arrests as well as admissions to detention. As mayor, I have prioritized directing resources and opportunities to youth and will continue to drive the services and initiatives needed to help our children on a pathway to success. Trenton Kids Count data is public accountability of our policy and decision-making. The data not only tells us what’s working and what’s not, but also highlights opportunities for growth,” says Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora.
“We believe in the transformative power of well-guided advocacy efforts, and Trenton Kids Count 2023 helps lay the groundwork for such work. In understanding what our fellow community members are doing coupled with the numbers outlined in the report, we can help pave the way for innovative solutions that can change lives,” says Katherine Nunnally, executive director and CEO of the Smith Family Foundation.
“We are encouraged by the promising gains shown in the data, but through our conversations with the staff of nonprofits working directly with city residents, we also know that the most vulnerable residents were hit particularly hard by economic and learning losses caused by the pandemic,” said Jeffrey Vega, President & CEO of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. “Addressing the needs of under-resourced and vulnerable individuals, families, and communities is paramount, and we hope this report will empower community advocates to take a deeper dive into the data and help us develop solutions.”
ACNJ, in partnership with the Trenton Kids Count Committee and the funders, will be hosting upcoming community conversations to work towards creating actionable items that will improve the lives of Trenton’s children. The dates and topics are as follows:
February 15 - Education and Development
March 15 - Health and Human Services
April 19 - Juvenile Justice and Crime
May 17 - Housing and Economics
Key Kids Count Trenton 2023 Trends
Demographics: Trenton’s child population remains stable at a quarter of the city’s total population. Black children make up 46% and Hispanic children 47%.
Family Economic Security: With median monthly rent at $1,085, about 59% of households pay more than 30% of their income on rent, surpassing the state average of 48%. The city’s unemployment rate more than doubled from 5.2 in 2019 to 10.6 in 2020 due to the pandemic and declined to 8.1 in 2021. Though the rate of Trenton children in poverty declined from 41% in 2011-2015 to 37% in 2016-2020, it is more than double the state rate of 13%.
Child Health: Expectant mothers receiving early prenatal care decreased from 57% in 2016 to 47% in 2020. During that same time period, fewer children 6-26 months old were tested for lead, but more were found to have elevated blood lead levels.
Child Protection: The number of children reported for abuse or neglect decreased from 2,331 in 2017 to 1,747 in 2020, then increased the following year to 1,976. The number of reported children with substantiated or established findings of abuse or neglect fell from 116 in 2017 to 42 in 2021.
Teens and Young Adults: Juvenile arrests dropped from 537 in 2017 to 230 in 2021. Admissions to county detention decreased by half, from 105 in 2017 to 52 in 2021. The city’s teen birth rate increased from 8.2% in 2016 to 9.9% in 2020, about double the county rate and much greater than the state’s 2.5%.
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