Growing child poverty is the central theme of the latest "Kids Count" report from Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

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The report, released early Thursday, found an increase in child poverty from 2008 to 2012 in all but four counties – Morris, Passaic, Salem and Warren. Statewide, the number of children in poverty jumped 22 percent over the four-year period.

“Increases in the number of children living in families earning too little to meet their children’s needs ranged from a low of 8 percent in Monmouth County to a high of 246 percent in Somerset County,” the report stated. “Sussex and Bergen also saw steep spikes in child poverty.”

The annual report, though, looked at much more than income when ranking counties based on overall child well-being. Using more than a dozen indicators, ACNJ concluded Hunterdon County tops the list and Cumberland County comes in last.

Advocates for Children of New Jersey

In the report, the state was recognized for its progress in feeding school breakfast to more low-income students, and reducing the number of uninsured children. However, New Jersey was criticized for the availability and affordability of child care.

“Parents pay around 25 percent of income on child care, and the nation’s recommendation is 10 percent,” said Cecilia Zalkind, ACNJ executive director.

Zalkind said she hopes policymakers use ACNJ’s data “as it does its planning for services.”

She added, “As children and families continue to struggle, it is more important than ever to make sound decisions to improve children’s lives and invest in the future of our state."