NEWARK, NJ – Amid a surge in unemployment rates and positive cases of COVID, a report from New Jersey’s Advocates for Children this month highlighted the toll the pandemic has taken on families in Newark.
As part of the first report, published in a two-part snapshot series, “Newark Kids Count Data Snapshot: The Impact of COVID-19” analyzed how the city’s children and families have endured the pandemic since it enforced a city-wide lockdown in 2020. The report looks at various factors such as the state and city response to family support, and the impact of increased unemployment on families and children.
“The City of Newark has taken exceptional measures to support its residents, which affects the well-being of their children,” said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of ACNJ. “They created a comprehensive website to keep everyone updated during the pandemic, opened vaccination sites, and provided a wealth of resources for local residents and small businesses alike. But the pandemic has been devastating for families and may require a long road to recovery. “
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As part of the city’s response to the pandemic, officials have made various efforts to educate and educate residents about the virus, as well as addressing the crisis.
With the implementation of COVID testing and vaccination sites across the city, officials created a COVID-19 portal for residents and small businesses on the city’s website. The online portal contains relevant information on vaccination and test centers as well as aids for small businesses and local residents.
Since vaccines first became available in December 2020, the city has also set up several county-run pop-up vaccination clinics in churches and public parks, reaching out to several groups of underserved residents such as the homeless and local residents. This week, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka even launched the first round of city-wide pop-up clinics to provide better access and ensure an equitable distribution of vaccines.
However, while the city has provided a straightforward response to fighting the spread of COVID, the numbers continue to rise.
New Jersey is facing some of the highest positive COVID cases and nearing 1,000 COVID-related deaths. As of May 13, Essex County officials reported that Newark had more than 36,000 positive cases and 976 COVID deaths.
In addition to these numbers, the ACNJ report found that Newark unemployment rates fell from March to April 2020 between 2015 and 2019, but monthly unemployment rates rose from 6.2% to 19.7%, compared with 3.7% in 15, 9% for the state.
As unemployment rises, so too does the impact on families in Newark trying to provide basic food for their children.
“The difficulties documented in this report are not limited to adults,” Zalkind said in a statement. “Children are exposed to the negative effects of having less food on the table or by placing insecurities. This reality underscores the need for support to ensure Newark’s children don’t fall through the cracks as a result of COVID-19. “
Despite the high unemployment rate in the city, the ACNJ report found that Newark’s children did not take advantage of nonprofit programs such as SNAP or Temporary Aid for Families in Need (TANF) from June 2019 to June 2020.
The report showed that the number of children in Newark receiving NJ SNAP benefits decreased both from 2016 to 2020 and year-on-year between 2019 and 2020. However, the annual trend data is different. Nationwide, the children who received NJ SNAP gained more than 8,000 between 2019 and 2020.
In a review of the data in six-month increments for January, June, and December 2020, ACNJ reported that in Newark and Essex Counties, the number of children receiving NJ SNAP decreased in the first half of 2020, but those numbers increased later between June and December 2020.
“Just the changes to the Newark SNAP registry were significant – from June 2020 to December 2020, child recipients increased by more than 10,000 people,” the report said.
For TANF, June 2019 and 2020 annual data showed decreases in recipients in Newark and Essex, but an increase in nationwide recipients of children.
From January to December 2020, ACNJ reported that Newark and Essex saw “very slight gains” while statewide data showed a slight decline.
As Newark continues to emerge and recover from the pandemic, the ACNJ report showed that the city as a whole has responded with much-needed support and guidance for residents, but unemployment data and high COVID numbers still show a critical need for public programs Safety nets.
With vaccination rates soaring both in the city and across the state, ACNJ officials noted the importance of continuing to monitor data such as the use of utility programs that may indicate the long-term effects of the pandemic.
“It is likely that many children and their parents will need additional support after months of high unemployment,” the report said.
“The City of Newark has programs in place to advance the country’s mission to get a vaccine in every arm while looking for ways to better serve residents during this difficult time,” said Alana Vega, ACNJ Kids Count Coordinator. “As we eagerly await the end of the pandemic, we will continue to track the data for children so we can make more informed decisions and create a better future.”