Annual survey finds more NJ kids living in poverty

| 25 Apr 2012 | 02:08

    By ANGELA DELLI SANTI TRENTON — More New Jersey children are living in families where food is sometimes scarce and parents don't earn enough money to meet the kids' basic needs, an annual survey on child well-being has found. The Kids Count survey released Tuesday, which covers activities through 2010, showed 12 percent of households not having enough food, and a 76 percent increase since 2006 in the number of children whose families receive food stamps. Overall, the report found that nearly one-third of the state's children - 619,000 kids - were living in low-income families, an increase of 14 percent from four years earlier. The number of children living in a family where no parent had regular, full-time, year-round employment also rose to 27 percent in 2010. "What seems most striking this year is the persistent and pervasive evidence that more and more families struggle economically," said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which produces the report. "And, increasingly, they are parents who have always worked but cannot find a full-time job with benefits." About 131,000 children were living in families earning less than $11,025, which is considered 50 percent below the poverty level for a family of four. Some 295,000 children were living in families earning less than $22,050, the federal poverty level. The report found about the same number of households - 30 percent - being headed by one parent. The number of grandparents raising children declined by 5 percent. The report, however, found some positive trends. Preschool enrollments are up and New Jersey continues to graduate a greater percentage of high school students (85 percent) than the national average (75 percent). The number of homeless students fell by 18 percent to 5,254. And, the number and percentage of New Jersey children without health insurance has declined substantially since 2006, dropping 32 percent and 31 percent. Still, 188,000 children are uninsured, most from low-income families. Other areas of improvement included decreases in the numbers of infant and child deaths, a sharp decline in the amount of children testing positive for lead poisoning and a drop in the number of children admitted to the hospital for asthma.