Bail Reform

  • New Jersey claims bail-reform a success, cites huge drop in jail population, By Peter Krouse, February 13, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “One year after sweeping criminal-justice reforms became law in New Jersey, the state has “successfully transformed an antiquated money bail system into a modern risk-based system,” the state’s courts reported Tuesday…”
  • Could Dallas’ bail system be deemed an ‘instrument of oppression’ after Houston ruling?, By Naomi Martin, February 16, 2018, Dallas News: “On the one hand, it was a kick in the gut.  But it was also a roadmap. That’s how Dallas County officials see a much-anticipated ruling by a federal appeals court on bail reform. For years, county leaders and judges have been in talks to overhaul the criminal bail system to make it easier for poor arrestees who aren’t dangerous to be released from jail while they await trial…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

South Jersey counties fall behind in safety, economics and education, Kids Count report shows, By Claire Lowe, July 10, 2017, Press of Atlantic City: “Cape May County has the highest rates of juvenile arrest and child abuse and neglect in the state, according to the latest data from the New Jersey Kids Count report. The rankings, released Monday, compare New Jersey counties on 12 measures of child well-being and across four domains: economics, health, safety and well-being, and education…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • Report: NJ kids have more access to health care, early education options, By Kelly Kultys, May 22, 2017, Burlington County Times: “Children in New Jersey were better off in terms of access to health care, school enrollment and family economics, according to the 2017 NJ Kids Count report from the Advocates for Children of New Jersey. The report found the percentage of uninsured children was down, while incomes and enrollment were up. But it also raised concerns about disparities in the juvenile justice system and the number of children being treated for substance abuse…”
  • N.J. kids are doing better these days, and Obamacare is one big reason, By Susan K. Livio, May 22, 2017, “Kids Count, the annual report measuring the health, safety and well-being of New Jersey’s 2 million children, shows there is cause for optimism as fewer children live with unemployed parents, lack insurance and and rely on welfare. And one big reason, authors say, is that kids have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare…”

Chronic Homelessness – Bergen County, NJ

Bergen County first in nation to end chronic homelessness, By Fausto Giovanny Pinto, March 28, 2017, Star-Ledger: “Bergen County has been certified as the first ‘community’ in the nation to end chronic homelessness.  The announcement was made by county and federal officials at the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center – which officials called integral in achieving the milestone…”

School Breakfast Programs – New Jersey

More than half of low-income children get breakfast in school in NJ, By Diane D’Amico, February 14, 2017, Press of Atlantic City: “Almost 268,000 low-income children in New Jersey got free or reduced-price breakfast in the last school year, a 6 percent increase from the year before, according to a national report. But breakfast is still not readily available to every child eligible to receive it.  The annual School Breakfast Scorecard, released Tuesday by the Food Research and Action Center, shows New Jersey improved its national ranking from 23rd in 2014-15 to 19th in 2015-16…”

Baby Box Program – New Jersey

Baby in a box? Free cardboard bassinets encourage safe sleeping, By Lisa W. Foderaro, February 12, 2017, New York Times: “Jernica Quiñones, a mother of five, was the first parent in New Jersey to get her free baby box — a portable, low-tech bassinet made of laminated cardboard. But first, she had to take an online course about safe sleeping practices, which experts say can sharply reduce the chances of sudden infant death syndrome.  ‘Basically, you want to have the baby on the mattress, and that’s it,’ she said after watching a 20-minute series of videos.  The message may not be new. But health officials say it is critical to keeping babies safe. To reduce infant mortality, parents must put babies to sleep on their backs on a firm mattress in either a bassinet or a crib — with no pillow, blanket, stuffed animal or bumpers.  Now, New Jersey has become the first state to adopt a broad program to reduce infant deaths by aiming to distribute as many as 105,000 of the so-called baby boxes — the expected number of births in the state this year…”

SNAP Enrollment – New Jersey

Food stamp use down in N.J., but not as much as the rest of the U.S., By Susan K. Livio, September 16, 2016, “Reliance on food stamps dropped by 3 percent in New Jersey since last summer – six months after tougher rules took effect that required adults without children to work to receive their benefits, according to state data. There were 430,000 households on food stamps or what has been renamed Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, a 3 percent decline from last summer, state Human Services data said. Salem, Somerset and Hunterdon counties saw the biggest caseload declines…”

Newark Kids Count Report

Newark kids are healthier but still living in poverty, new study finds, By Alex Napoliello, August 3, 2016, Star-Ledger: “While most families in the state’s largest city continue to live in poverty, progress is being made when it comes to the well-being of the city’s children, according to a new report released Monday.  That’s the takeaway from the 2016 Newark Kids Count report. The annual report tracks trends in the well-being of children in Newark, from child poverty and education to juvenile arrests and childcare in the city…”

Child Welfare Systems – New Jersey, Nebraska

  • N.J. making progress revamping child welfare system once among worst in U.S., By Susan K. Livio, June 8, 2016, “The federal monitor of New Jersey’s child welfare system Wednesday praised the Christie administration for one again making “significant progress” working with troubled families last year, but also highlighted lingering problems caseworkers had ensuring a child is safe to return home from foster care. Like nearly all of her reports she has issued in the last decade, Judith Meltzer issued a mixed report card on the state’s overhaul of child protection services, but stressed how far the system had come from being once regarded as one of the nation’s worst…”
  • Report shows recent, ‘significant’ increase of children in foster care, By Martha Stoddard, June 9, 2016, Omaha World-Herald: “A new state report shows that the number of Nebraska children in foster care has been growing in recent months, reversing a three-year downward trend.  The Foster Care Review Office’s quarterly report offered no explanation for the change.  But it said the increase for children in the child welfare system has been ‘significant…'”

TANF Benefits – New Jersey

Should N.J. raise welfare grants to reduce child poverty?, By Susan K. Livio, February 12, 2016, Star-Ledger: “After decades of pleading with state leaders to raise the value of welfare benefits in New Jersey, anti-poverty groups joined with top lawmakers at the Statehouse Thursday who vowed to phase-in a 30-percent increase over the next three years…”

Poverty Rate – New Jersey

  • Record number of N.J. residents living in poverty, study finds, By MaryAnn Spoto, November 15, 2015, Star-Ledger: “More New Jersey residents are in poverty now than in the past five decades and the outlook for the future is bleak, according to a report released Sunday, which aims to redefine the definition of poor in the state. The findings in the study done for Legal Services of New Jersey, an organization based in Edison that gives free legal help to low-income residents in civil cases, paint a grim picture for those in the middle and lower classes. The reports also notes more families have remained in poverty since the 2008 Great Recession…”
  • Report: One-third of N.J. residents in ‘true poverty’, By Shannon Mullen, November 16, 2015, Daily Record: “If you’re living paycheck to paycheck or falling behind on bills, you’ve got plenty of company.  Nearly one-third of New Jersey households can’t make ends meet, the highest percentage since the 1960s, according to a new report issued by Legal Services of New Jersey.  The state’s official poverty rate stood at just over 11 percent in 2014. But Legal Services, an Edison-based non-profit organization that provides legal aid to thousands of low-income state residents each year, says federal poverty income guidelines aren’t telling the full story…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • Minority children in N.J. likeliest to be poor, unhealthy, struggle in school, report says, By Susan K. Livio, April 20, 2015, Star-Ledger: “Black and Latino children in New Jersey are far more likely to live in poverty, struggle in school, and get caught up in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems than white and Asian children, according to the latest annual Kids Count report.  The report, released by Advocates for Children of New Jersey for the first time focused on the impact race has on family health and stability. With nearly half the population of children in the state being black, Latino, Asian or a mix of races, the group hopes this focus will urge lawmakers and policy makers to pay attention to the needs of minority families, said Cecilia Zalkind, the executive director…”
  • N.J.’s poorest children in Atlantic, Cumberland counties, report says, By Diane D’Amico, April 20, 2015, Press of Atlantic City: “Cumberland and Atlantic counties remain at the bottom of the state for child well-being according to the 2015 New Jersey Kids Count report released Monday, ranking 21st and 20th among the state’s 21 counties. Atlantic County had a 60 percent increase in the number of children living in poverty between 2009 and 2013, among the largest increases in the state…”

States and Medicaid Coverage

  • Under Obamacare, Medicaid now covers one-fifth of N.J. residents, By Kathleen O’Brien, April 14, 2015, Star-Ledger: “Medicaid, the public health insurance program expanded under the Affordable Care Act, now covers nearly one out of every five New Jersey residents, according to the latest enrollment figures.  More than 420,000 people signed up for insurance since New Jersey allowed more people to into the program, according to Valerie Harr, director of the division of medical assistance and health services for the N.J. Department of Human Services…”
  • Some states pay doctors more to treat Medicaid patients, By Michael Ollove, April 17, 2015, Stateline: “Fifteen states are betting they can convince more doctors to accept the growing number of patients covered by Medicaid with a simple incentive: more money.  The Affordable Care Act gave states federal dollars to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care services—but only temporarily. The federal spigot ran dry on Jan. 1. Fearing that lowering the rates would exacerbate the shortage of primary care doctors willing to accept patients on Medicaid, the 15 states are dipping into their own coffers to continue to pay the doctors more.  It seems to be working…”

Long-Term Unemployment – New Jersey

Forever unemployed: Why N.J.’s long-term jobless rate remains among highest in U.S., By Erin O’Neill, April 5, 2015, Star-Ledger: “Alain Chahine lost his job two years ago. Since then, he said, he has completed more than 600 applications and sent 200 messages to his network looking for leads. Those efforts produced 18 interviews in 2013, 35 more in 2014 and 12 so far this year, Chahine said. But the number of full-time job offers to date? Zero.  ‘There’s nothing funny about the job search process,’ said the 57-year-old northern New Jersey resident. ‘You’re at the mercy of the process itself and that’s the frustrating part.’  Federal jobs reports point to a rebounding labor market, though the unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent in March. But the percentage of jobless residents out of work 27 weeks or more remains historically high…”

Medicaid Patients and Access to Care

N.J. doctors least willing to accept Medicaid patients under Obamacare, By Susan K. Livio, March 31, 2015, Star-Ledger: “The Affordable Care Act has provided a path for 420,500 low-income New Jersey residents to gain insurance through the Medicaid program, but a new study says the state ranks last in the nation in doctors willing to treat them.  Just 38.7 percent of New Jersey physicians said they accepted new Medicaid patients in 2013 — far below the national average of nearly 69 percent, according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New Jersey is the only state where fewer than half of the doctors accepted new Medicaid patients. California, at 54.2 percent is second-lowest in the nation…”

Long-Term Unemployment – New Jersey

N.J.’s long-term unemployed rate worse than 48 states, By Erin O’Neill, October 15, 2014, Star-Ledger: “Nearly half of jobless residents in New Jersey have been out of work for more than six months, according to a new report, a level that ranks the state among the worst in the country. The brief released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective notes the ‘long-term unemployment crisis is a national problem’ but found every other state except Florida fared better than New Jersey. Also, while the share of long-term unemployed in New Jersey has fallen from its peak in 2010, the brief found that drop has not been as sharp as it has nationally…”

State Minimum Wage Increases

  • NJ’s minimum wage rising in January by 13 cents, By Michael Symons, September 30, 2014, Vineland Daily Journal‎: “New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase by 13 cents an hour, starting in January. The 1.59 percent increase, from $8.25 an hour to $8.38, is required under a constitutional amendment approved by 61 percent of voters last November that raised the mimimum wage by $1 and provided for automatic yearly increases to keep pace with inflation. It amounts to less than $20 a month for a minimum-wage worker putting in 35 hours a week, or almost $240 over the course of the year…”
  • Minimum wage to rise to $8.10 for Ohio workers in 2015, up 15 cents, By Robert Higgs, September 30, 2014, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio’s minimum wage will increase to $8.10 an hour for non-tipped employees beginning Jan. 1, an increase of 15 cents triggered by inflation. The current rate of $7.95 has been in effect since the beginning of this year…”
  • Washington’s minimum wage going up again to $9.47, tops in the U.S., By Brad Shannon, September 30, 3014, Tacoma News Tribune: “Washington’s minimum wage will go up by 15 cents to $9.47 an hour, affecting more than 67,000 workers, the state Department of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday. That keeps the state rate highest in the country on a statewide basis, although some jurisdictions such as Seattle and SeaTac have adopted laws to set higher rates. Oregon’s rate, which is the second highest, goes up 15 cents to $9.25 next year, Labor & Industries said in a news release…”

Rental Assistance and Lack of Affordable Housing

Chronic poverty leads many to South Jersey motel roomsBy Kim Mulford, May 16, 2014, Courier-Post: “Charlene Ahing, her fiance and their baby boy have been living in a room at the Red Carpet Inn in Pemberton since October. The 36-year-old couple both have health problems, no jobs, no car and no permanent place to call home. They receive assistance from Burlington County to stay at the Browns Mills motel. Though there are few cars in the parking lot, the motel is filled with families like Ahing’s. Her room includes a small refrigerator and a microwave, making it expensive to eat. They would rather live in an apartment, but can’t find a better place that will accept Temporary Rental Assistance. ‘It’s been horrible,’ notes Ahing, holding a fuzzy blue blanket around her pink-cheeked baby. ‘Every month, you hope that welfare’s going to pay your rent. I don’t know what I would do if they stopped paying for this.’ There is no easy way out, advocates say. . .”


Homeless Encampments

America’s homeless: The rise of Tent City, USA, By Blake Ellis, May 16, 2014, CNN Money: “Homeless encampments known as “tent cities” are popping up across the country. Formed as an alternative to shelters and street-living, these makeshift communities are often set up off of highways, under bridges and in the woods. Some have “mayors” who determine the rules of the camp and who can and can’t join, others are a free-for-all. Some are overflowing with trash, old food, human waste and drug paraphernalia, others are relatively clean and drug-free. . .”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • Hunterdon tops NJ ranking of best counties for kids, Cumberland ranks last, By Peggy McGlone, April 24, 2014, Star-Ledger: “Hunterdon County is the best place in the state for children, according to new rankings and county profiles released today by the Advocates for the Children of New Jersey. Cumberland County ranked last in the annual ‘Kids Count’ report, which measures the state’s 21 counties in 13 categories, including poverty, health, safety and education…”
  • South Jersey counties lag state in children’s health, welfare issues, By Diane D’Amico, April 24, 2014, Press of Atlantic City: “Atlantic and Cumberland counties rank the lowest for child welfare according to the New Jersey Kids Count report released today. Cape May and Ocean counties both improved their rankings. Cumberland County ranks 21st out of the state’s 21 counties, down from 20th last year. Atlantic County moved down from 19th to 20th. Cape May County improved from 18th to 15th, and Ocean County improved from 13th to 10th. The annual report is released by Advocates for Children of New Jersey, or ACNJ, to highlight issues affecting children in the state. It includes data on family income, housing access, birth rates and state test results…”