Home Healthy Living Children's Health Percentage of uninsured kids in New Jersey reaches all-time low

Percentage of uninsured kids in New Jersey reaches all-time low

Percentage of uninsured kids in New Jersey reaches all-time low

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Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg of Highland Park attended schools nearly all-white schools. She and her husband, Jon Whiten, want a different experience for their son.
NorthJersey

The rate of uninsured children in New Jersey is at an “all-time low,” according a new report from a children’s advocacy group. 

The 2018 New Jersey Kids Count County Rankings, which is produced by the Advocates for Children of New Jersey, reported a 32 percent drop in the number of children without health insurance between 2012 and 2016, from nearly 103,000 to just over 70,000. 

The annual report, released Tuesday, ranks the state’s counties on a dozen measures of children’s well-being, including health, education, family economics and safety.

“We hope local, county and state leaders, as well as the general public, will use this comprehensive data book to identify areas of concern and develop solutions to improve the lives of children in their own backyard,” said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

Hunterdon, Morris and Ocean counties topped the ranking for children’s health. Warren and Hudson counties, which were ranked near the bottom, exceeded the state average of uninsured children with 6.4 percent. The state average is 3.5 percent.

Teen births were down in every county in the state. In Bergen County, just 1 percent of births were to girls and women between the ages of 10 and 19. Across the state the figure was 2.9 percent.

The number of children under age 6 who have been tested for lead also decreased slightly, to 27 percent in 2016 from 28 percent in 2012. The percentage of those children whose blood was tested for lead in 2016 ranged from from 7 percent in Gloucester County to 41 percent in Essex County in 2016. 

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While Bergen County ranked in the top five in three measures of children’s well-being — education, safety and family economics — the county has work to do in improving children’s overall health, where it ranked 14th.

The percentage of uninsured children in Bergen County was 4.2 in 2016, exceeding the state average of 3.5 percent. Twenty-three percent of children age 6 and under in the county received blood lead tests in 2016, which is just under the state average of 27 percent.

Although the unemployment rate has improved over the years, 15 percent of the 2 million children in New Jersey live in poverty, according to the report, with poverty defined as a family of four with a household income of just over $24,000.

At least a quarter of the children from Cumberland, Passaic and Salem counties were living in poverty, while Hunterdon, Morris and Somerset counties had the lowest percentages of child poverty at 6 percent or below.

Ocean, Morris and Somerset counties all had low rates of child abuse and neglect. Less than 7 percent of children had substantiated or established cases of child abuse or neglect, according to the report.

Juvenile arrests have also “dramatically” declined throughout the state, according to the report, with Hunterdon County experiencing a 53 percent reduction from 2012 to 2016.  

Bergen, Morris and Hunterdon scored high in education categories, including standardized test scores and graduation rates. Meanwhile, Cumberland and Essex Counties had the highest percentages of chronic absenteeism. Fourteen to 16 percent of Cumberland and Essex students missed school at least 10 percent of the school year. 

Bergen and Morris counties placed first and second, respectively, for the number of third-graders who met or exceeded expectations on the English language arts section of the standardized Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College Careers, or PARCC, exams, according to the report. Ninety-five percent of students graduated from high school in Bergen County, above the state average of 91 percent.

The high cost of living is another issue that residents felt throughout the state, with 42 percent of households in Morris County and 57 percent in Cumberland County spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to the report.

“Roughly two-thirds of children, ages 0 to 5, had all parents in the labor force, meaning access to quality early learning environments is critical,” Zalkind said in a statement. “Between 2013 and 2017, the state saw a slight decline in the number of licensed child care centers as well as preschool enrollment.”

 

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