New Jersey's strong educational system helped bolster the Garden State's standing in the national Kids Count Data survey. Released on July 25, the survey which ranks states based on their child-friendly conditions, placed New Jersey fourth in the nation. Last year the study ranked the state fifth in the nation.
The annual survey from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks states in four broad areas: education, economic well-being, health, and family and community well-being.
New Jersey's highest ranking came in education; it ranked second in the country, after Massachusetts. The measures used to rank on education included statistics such as preschool attendance and the percentage of fourth-grade students who are proficient readers.
The state also ranked fairly high on health, at fifth in the nation, and on overall family and community well-being, being rated at ninth in the country.
However, New Jersey's lowest individual ranking came in the category of economic well-being of children and families, where it ranked 19th in the U.S. High housing costs and increases in child poverty and in the number of children living in a family where no parent has a full-time job contributed to that ranking.
"New Jersey leads the nation in education and child health, but rising child poverty means that thousands of New Jersey children face an uphill battle," said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children in New Jersey, which produces the state-level Kids Count reports.
The full report is available online.