Our client-families are predominantly headed by women, though almost 40% live in families with both parents present (because they are married or living together). Over 70% of our clients are Hispanic, with 54% of all parents speaking Spanish only, and 64% reside in New Brunswick; 29% in other Middlesex County communities (others come from beyond the County).
Parents' ages range from 12 year old mothers to grandmothers raising their children’s babies. However the younger parents are only in the single digits, while 70% are between 21 and 35 years old, with the largest proportion (28%) between 30 and 35 years old.
Families are referred to us very early in the babies' lives: 34% during the mother's pregnancy, another 39% within the first six months of birth. 45% of the 619 families had just one child; another 29% had two, and the last 26% had three or more. (We try to focus on new mothers with one child, but there are many others referred to us in great need.)
Almost 90% of the families earn less than $20,000, no matter what their family size. (According to a Middlesex County study, a single adult would need an income of over $26,500 to sustain a modest life. All our families have at least two people, mother and child.) Despite these meager incomes, over 31% of our clients do not have any public assistance. One of our targets is to improve health and nutrition, and by year's end 70% had some form of health insurance, and 56% had access to WIC or SNAP (Women, Infants and Children Federal Nutrition Program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.) This last, access to nutritional aid, was a troubling drop from the 71% of our clients who were able to enroll in it last year. Our application rate has not changed; the eligibility requirements have been raised.
This is a challenging time for our programs, as it is for many others serving those with very low incomes. Less funding is available, and it is harder to obtain. Our thanks to all who donate time, supplies, and funding to help these families most in need.
For complete information about our BEST clients, please see our BEST Annual Report for 2015-2016.