Study on Child Well-Being Ranks Essex County 16th Out of 21 in New Jersey


Essex County isn't the best place in New Jersey for your kids to live, but it's getting better, according to a recent study.

Essex ranked 16th out of 21 in the 2015 "New Jersey Kids Count" report, an annual effort to track the relative "well-being" of children across the state.

The 2015 ranking was a step up from 2014, when the county placed 17th.

The report is conducted by Advocates for Children of New Jersey, a nonprofit that works with government leaders to identify and implement changes for child welfare, and is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy based in Baltimore.


According to the report, Essex County made progress in lowering the percent of income families spent on child care, advancing from 20th last year to 16th place. The county also improved in several measures of child poverty, including percent unemployed and median family income.

The county lost ground, however, in student performance on state test among 4th and 11th graders and the rate of child abuse or neglect investigations.

Other key trends reported in the study include:

  • 25 percent of Essex County children lived in families that earned too little to meet their needs in 2013 – much higher than the state average of 17 percent.
  • The county saw a decrease from eight to seven percent of birth to teens, and a drop in its infant mortality rate from seven deaths per 1,000 live births to six deaths in 2011.
  • Although it is recommended that a family spend no more than 10 percent of their income on child care, the average Essex family with one infant and one preschooler in center‐based care spent 30 percent of their income on child care in 2013.
  • In 2014, Essex's state test performance fell among 4th and 11th graders, with passing rates of 67 and 79 percent.


The study analyzes data from several state agencies such as the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Department of Children and Families, Department of Community Affairs, Department of Education and Department of Health and Senior Services, in addition to federal agencies such as the U.S. Census and the IRS.

Ranking factors included: Child population, percentage of children in poverty, median income, percentage of women who receive prenatal care, teen births, infant mortality, child abuse investigations, juvenile arrests and educational statistics.


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Created date

April 24, 2018

Critical Commentary

Highlights changes Essex county is making to improve the welfare of its children. And why its still ranked so lowly in the list