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Uncovering America's methamphetamine history; PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development; measuring long-term impact of the O.J. Simpson trial on media literacy.

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President Biden's name could be left off the ballot in Alabama and Ohio, the Justice Dept. mandates background checks for gun show purchases, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moves to allow state police to arrest undocumented migrants.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

NJ ranks high in child well-being, but racial gaps persist

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Wednesday, January 17, 2024   

New Jersey kids score higher than the national average for overall well-being but large racial disparities persist, according to a new study.

The 2024 Race for Results report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found the Garden State is doing well on many measures of education, for example.

Alena Siddiqui, Kids Count coordinator for the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New Jersey, noted while 38% of New Jersey's fourth graders scored well in reading in 2022, it is not the whole story.

"Sixty-eight percent of Asian and Pacific Islander students scored at or above reading level, amongst the highest in the nation," Siddiqui reported. "But then, only 19% of Black or African American fourth graders are at proficiency or above. So, we see that there are wide disparities."

The study also showed only 53% of Black and brown children live in households at or above 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, compared to 87% of Asian Pacific Islander children and 82% of white children.

To combat poverty, New Jersey recently doubled a tax credit for young families from $500 to $1,000 per child under age five.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, noted youth of color constitute a slight majority of young Americans, and one in four children in the U.S. grows up in an immigrant family.

"In order for our country to prosper, we have to support the needs of all children, including kids of color, and have targeted solutions to the different racial and ethnic groups," Boissiere emphasized. "That allows us to have a strong workforce in the future, which is what propels our economy."

Pandemic-era tax credits dramatically cut child poverty but it rose again once they expired. The report called for an extension of the Child Tax Credit, something congressional leaders agreed to just yesterday. However, the bill is expected to face an uphill battle toward passage.

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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