There’s been a 24 percent increase since 2000 in the number of New Jersey children living in poor neighborhoods, according to Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The average number of children living in neighborhoods with 30 percent or more of its residents living below the poverty line was 128,000 in 2010, about 6 percent of the child population and up from about 103,000 in 2000. Still, that’s lower than the national average of 11 percent.
Families living in concentrated poverty — whether or not they are poor themselves — are more likely to struggle to meet basic needs. According to Kids Count, these families are more likely to face food hardship, have trouble meeting housing costs, and lack health insurance. Children themselves are more likely to experience harmful levels of stress and severe behavioral and emotional problems, which will lead to an inability to succeed in school. Students in predominately low-income schools have lower test scores than those who attend predominately higher-income schools, regardless of their family’s income, according to Kids Count.