Latest Kids Count Report Reveals Improvement in Newark

Cecilia Zalkind, Executive Director, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, shares the latest findings from the Kids Count Report and discusses the improvements Newark has made, especially in healthcare, early childhood education and high school graduation rates.

5/6/17 #107






"We are pleased, once again, to welcome back our good friend, Cecilia Zalkind, who is Executive Director Advocates for Children of New Jersey. Cecilia, good to see you. Thank you. Thank you for having me. Every year, when my great friend and colleague, the terrific broadcaster Rafael Pi Roman, would bring you on Capitol Report, we'd always hope you'd come back with this report on the children of New Jersey and say, "Things are great!" [laughter] "They're doing great!" "They've improved!" And this year, on our new series State of Affairs, I want to ask you with this report, by the way, I put it into context every year, there's a report that is done that looks at what? Well, this year, we released two weeks ago a report that looks at Newark. Right. So it's a whole range of indicators of a child's well being. Health, economic well being, education, childcare, preschool, later in the Spring, we'll put out a state report. But actually, things are looking better in Newark. Give us the indicators, and give us the improvements. I think there have been improvements across the board. Health is probably the biggest area. There are very few children, the lowest percentage, without health insurance. Which is very positive. Other health indicators are positive. Higher graduation rates. Child poverty has dropped a bit. It's still an issue in Newark. More families accessing the earned income tax credit. It's positive news across the board. So more children having access to healthcare, directly related to Medicaid expansion? Yes. Absolutely. Explain that to people. Because it's jargon. I mean "Medicaid expansion". What exactly does it mean? Well, New Jersey actually has always had a very strong child health insurance program. It's dependent on federal money. It has a state match. We've had a program that's been... provided pretty good coverage. There's certainly a family copay at higher incomes. But three years ago, states had the opportunity to bring down more federal money and expand it to more low income families. What happened is it brought a lot of parents, who did not have health coverage, into the healthcare system. And we know from history that when parents are covered, kids are covered too. So we have greatly expanded access to health insurance for kids. What is the Donald Trump presidential administration saying on this subject? Well the jury's still out, but it's a little scary. You know, we're watching very closely to see what's going to happen. The early indications, I think were, to be honest, were frightening. The thought that we could simply repeal the Affordable Care Act? Excuse me, you're making reference, because we are taping in mid April of 2017..."