DefinitionNumber or percent of children under 5 years of age living in poverty
NumeratorNumber of children less than 5 years of age living in poverty in a geographic area
DenominatorNumber of children less than 5 years of age living in a geographic area
Why Is This Important?Poverty affects a wide range of resources that can enhance or diminish quality of life and thus have a significant influence on health outcomes. These resources include safe and affordable housing, access to education, public safety, availability of healthy foods, local emergency/health services, and environments free of life-threatening toxins.[https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/social-determinants-of-health ^1^]
How Are We Doing?Based upon 2017 American Community Survey 5-year estimates from the U.S. Census data, there were wide variations in the county rates of poverty among New Jersey children less than 5 years of age. Counties with the highest percentages of children under 5 years of age living in poverty were Atlantic, Cumberland, Essex, Passaic, and Salem. The lowest percentages of poverty among children less than 5 years were in Hunterdon, Morris, and Somerset Counties.
In New Jersey, nearly one-third of Black and more than one-quarter of Hispanic children under 5 years of age are living in poverty. The rates for White and Asian children under age 5 are 8.5% and 4.7%, respectively.
How Do We Compare With the U.S.?New Jersey's early childhood poverty rate of 17% is below the national rate of 22%.
Health Program InformationPoverty during childhood puts children at increased risk for living in run-down or poorly maintained older (pre-1950s) housing, and this increases a child's chances of exposure to chipped and peeling lead paint. Deteriorating lead paint (chipping, flaking, and peeling) and paint disturbed during home remodeling contributes to lead dust, contaminates bare soil around a home, and makes paint chips and dust-containing lead accessible.
Children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults. The first six years, particularly the first three years of life, is the time when the brain grows the fastest, and when the critical connections in the brain and nervous system are formed. The normal behavior of children at this age - crawling, exploring, teething, putting objects in their mouth - can put them in contact with lead that is present in their environment.