New Report: Public Health Observations and Attitudes in New Jersey

December 24, 2021

Rutgers scholars Jeanne Herb and Ashley Koning have released “Enhancing Local Public Health Capacity in New Jersey: Opportunities for Modernization,” a new report that assesses challenges and opportunities of local public health in New Jersey.

Herb led a review of public health structure in New Jersey over the last 30 years, with comparisons to other states. Koning assessed New Jerseyans’ perspectives of public health through the Rutgers-Eagleton poll. To view the full report, click here.

For interviews with the authors, contact Megan Schumann, megan.schumann@rutgers.edu, 848-445-1907

Among the observations and findings:

  • New Jersey has a comprehensive set of public health practice standards on par with the national Public Health Accreditation Board standards. However, New Jersey ranks 31st in the nation in state funding for public health and 51st in grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The 2011 state budget eliminated unrestricted state funding for local public health in New Jersey. As a result, local public health is funded through local property taxes and earmarked state and federal dollars, which leaves local public health little flexibility to address the most pressing public health challenges facing their communities.
  • 30 percent of residents do not know what the top health-related issue is facing their community, while 20 percent do not know what “public health” is.
  • 95 percent of municipalities participate in some form of shared arrangement to deliver public health services, whether through an interlocal agreement, a regional health commission or a county health department.
  • 89 percent of residents have been personally impacted by a service provided by their local health department.
  • 88 percent of New Jerseyans believe it is very or somewhat important for the state to establish a stable, dedicated funding source for local public health services and programs. However, respondents expressed concern about how to pay for such funding.

Jeanne Herb is executive director of the Environmental Analysis and Communications Group, a center of service, research and practice at Rutgers’ Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. She leads initiatives at the intersection of social and environmental determinants of health, health equity, environmental sustainability, state and local public policy, and inclusive, participatory decision-making.

Ashley Koning is the director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP), the oldest statewide university-based survey research center in the country, now in its 50th year.

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