Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, spoke with APN about their work:
What does the organization do?
Children can’t vote. They have no political influence. They can’t tell our state leaders what they need. That’s why we’re here. Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) works with local, state and federal leaders to identify and implement changes that will benefit New Jersey’s children.
Our work results in better laws and policies, more effective funding and stronger services for children and families. This means more children are given the chance to grow up safe, healthy and educated. A cornerstone of ACNJ’s success is its independence. We are strictly non-partisan and accept no government funding for advocacy, freeing us to focus on our sole mission – helping children.
Who does the organization help?
Our work primarily benefits low-income children across New Jersey. This includes ensuring that all children have access to quality early education, healthcare, nutrition and other essential supports to help them learn, grow and be healthy.
In addition, ACNJ’s work focuses on ensuring that children and youth who become involved in the child welfare and/or juvenile justice system are provided with appropriate supports and services to address the issues that caused them to become involved with these state systems.
What does poverty look like in the agency’s work?
Much of ACNJ’s work is focused on addressing the disparities that poverty causes for children. Children from low-income families are more likely to succeed in school when they have quality child care and preschool, breakfast at school and health coverage.
Why is Advocates for Children of New Jersey a part of APN?
A critical part of ACNJ’s work is to partner with other organizations and coalitions to advance messages and measures that benefit New Jersey’s children and families. The Anti-Poverty Network is one of many coalitions that ACNJ supports, recognizing that when we band together with a common cause we are more likely to achieve real-life results for children.