Interactive Map: How Counties Fare on Children’s Health and Education

A few statewide trends emerge, but most results are mixed, depending on wealth and location

Click on a county to see its overall rank and various health and education measurements of child well-being.

Source: Advocates for Children of New Jersey, 2012 New Jersey Kids Count

How Counties Fare on Children’s Health and Education

The health and social wellbeing of New Jersey children is a mixed bag, with kids faring better in some areas and worse in others, according to data from New Jersey Kids Count 2012.

Overall, children in north and central counties, as well as those that are wealthier, tend to be healthier and have an easier time, although some of the southern counties posted positive gains in health and social measures.

Advocates for Children of New Jersey publishes Kids Count reports each year in an effort to gauge the health and welfare of children and to try to draw attention to those areas officials could improve.

“It is critical to examine child trends in each county to build on progress and target persistent problems,” said Cecilia Zalkind, ACNJ executive director.

This year’s ranking found the number of deaths among infants before their first birthday dropped by 8 percent statewide over four years and dropped in most counties.

On the other hand, the percent of babies born with low birth weight rose slightly to 8.1 percent. Infants who weigh less than 5 ½ pounds at birth are at risk of being in poor health, having lasting disabilities, or dying. Low birth weight is often preventable if a mother gets proper prenatal care, eats right, and doesn’t smoke, drink alcohol, or take illicit drugs.

There was also a 2 percent rise in the percentage of all births to girls under age 19. Statewide, 6.2 percent of all births were to young girls, but there’s a wide range — from just 2 percent in Morris County to 15.5 percent in Cumberland.

The number of pregnant women getting early prenatal care, which can greatly enhance the health of the baby and the mother, was unchanged statewide, but rose in some counties, including a 5 percent jump in Camden.

“More Camden women received early prenatal care and fewer teens gave birth,” said Zalkind. “That’s encouraging.”

The Kids Count data on child abuse was mixed: Investigations of abuse rose, but the percentage of those that were substantiated dropped.

Findings in the area of childcare were positive. The percentage of children attending state-funded preschool is up 12 percent. The number of childcare slots also increased, by about 4 percent. Hunterdon County has the highest childcare capacity, with more slots than children: 1,155 spaces for every 1,000 kids.

The number of juvenile arrests also dropped by more than a third between 2006 and 2010, both statewide and in all counties.