Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) today praised New Jersey for placing seventh in the nation in overall child health and well being according to an annual survey while noting that the drastic cuts in Governor Christie’s budget may jeopardize the state’s ranking in years to come.
“If you look at the indicators studied to determine New Jersey’s rankings, it’s clear that we placed so well because we have demonstrated a commitment over the years to funding critical programs that protect at-risk children and families,” noted Vainieri Huttle. “However, Gov. Christie’s budget cuts to FamilyCare, school nutrition programs, after school programs, family planning and general education put this ranking, and all of its implications, in jeopardy for the future.”
New Jersey’s ranking improved from last year when it placed ninth in the annual nationwide Kids Count survey conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Among the 10 indicators that the foundation studies to determine rankings, New Jersey placed among the top 10 lowest in the following categories: infant mortality (5th); percentage of teens not enrolled in school and not high school graduates (4th); teen birth rates (5th); child death rate (6th); teen death rate (7th); percent of children in single parent families (9th); share of children living without secure parental employment and the child poverty rate (both 10th)
“The saddest part is that the Governor’s cuts, while temporarily bridging a budget gap, will only exacerbate problems in the long-term from both a health and socio-economic standpoint. By short-changing the programs that provide cost-effective preventative care and keep kids in school and off the streets we are looking towards a future where families are less healthy and even more dependent on government assistance.
“Just the other day the Governor vetoed two funding bills that have a direct correlation to these rankings – FamilyCare and family planning. Both programs help provide un- and underinsured families with access to pre- and post-natal care, health screenings, preventative medicine, and contraceptives. Without a clear alternative to accommodate this loss in services, many of these families will fall through the cracks,” added Vainieri Huttle.