The recent Associated Press report about the growing number of New Jersey Children living in poverty has alarming implications for our State and for current Administrative Policy.
Not only has the number of children who live in poor conditions and suffer from malnutrition risen by an alarming 18 percent, but the parents who were included in the survey were gainfully employed prior to the onset of the Christie Administration. As Cecilia Zalkind, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey was quoted, "and, increasingly, they are parents who have always worked but cannot find a full-time job with benefits."
The Christie Administration’s fiscal planning has led to the layoffs of police, firefighters, teachers, and other public workers who can no longer care for their children. The Associated Press report also indicates that “More New Jersey children are living in families where food is sometimes scarce and parents don't earn enough money to meet the kids' basic needs”. The “Comeback” that the Governor refers to, has led to a whopping one-third of New Jersey’s children “living in low-income families, an increase of 14 percent from four years earlier”.
The current State Administration has repeatedly demonstrated its insensitivity to the basic needs of our vulnerable citizens. The Governor’s Medicaid cuts, alone, are leading to many New Jerseyans being deprived of health care and, in some cases, has resulted in homelessness. The question becomes, “Who is expendable in this quest to secure State Solvency?”
Clearly, the Governor’s statement that New Jersey is making a comeback is pure fallacy. Property values continue to drop while property taxes continue to rise. Fewer families can afford to live in New Jersey. More and more families will never own their own home. Fewer families can afford to send their kids to college. As the trend continues, the American Dream becomes a laughable myth.
New Jersey will be known as that place where “the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.” Our vulnerable citizens are beginning to understand that they are meaningless objects in the view of the current Administration. Most heartbreaking is the knowledge that our children, who our most valuable resource and investment for society’s future, are being discarded like someone’s old shoes.
The “Comeback” State has demonstrated the value it has placed on our children.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.