During the pandemic, quality child care became an issue for working parents. With many schools and daycares shut down, working parents struggled to find child care for their children. Child care concerns, however, are not a new issue. For working parents, access to quality and affordable child care is something desperately sought after.
Improving child care across the state of New Jersey has been at the forefront of Governor Phil Murphy’s Administration for several years now. Before the pandemic, the Murphy Administration had already invested nearly $100 million into New Jersey’s child care assistance program – after child care reimbursement rates had remained relatively flat for a decade.
This week, Governor Murphy and Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman announced the state will invest $83 million to increase reimbursement rates for child care providers serving children in the state’s child care assistance program by an average of 25 percent.
Child care is crucial to a strong economy and strong childhood development
The rate increase will go into effect on Nov. 1, and will include the $6.4 million rate increase that would have gone into effect on Jan. 1 to help child care providers implement the January minimum wage increase.
“We know that accessing affordable, reliable and quality child care is a top priority for New Jersey families, and it’s critical to our state’s economic health,” Acting Commissioner Adelman said. “This new investment is another critical step forward to help families and build a stronger future for our state.”
The rate increases build on the Murphy Administration’s efforts to improve access to affordable child care and support child care providers and workers, both before and during the pandemic. Governor Murphy and Acting Commissioner Adelman recently announced plans to invest more than $700 million to help parents pay for child care, provide bonus pay to child care workers, and distribute grants and increase support for child care providers. This was the latest in a series of investments that included $400 million in other child care initiatives during the pandemic.
“The Murphy Administration continues making significant investments in child care because child care is crucial to a strong economy and strong childhood development,” Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said. “With this latest investment, we are giving families and child care providers even more vital support.”
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Elevating the quality of child care in NJ
For low income families who are working, in school, or in training programs, Human Services’ child care assistance programs can help provide resources and financial aid.
Access to quality child care is something every family should have. According to the state’s Grow NJ Kids site, “Research shows that children who are in quality child care and early learning programs when they are young are better prepared for kindergarten with better reading skills, more math skills and larger vocabularies.”
Grow NJ Kids is a state-sponsored initiative to raise the quality of child care and early learning throughout New Jersey. Grow NJ Kids gives child care and early learning programs resources to assess and improve their programs. Their mission is to foster ongoing improvement and create a standard way to look at child care and early learning by providing families with an objective rating system. Families can then use this system to assess child care programs and find the best quality program for their family.
With the latest increase, monthly infant care rates for licensed centers will have increased by nearly 70 percent under the Murphy Administration – from about $724 per month to $1,224 and close to 50 percent on average for all other age groups.
We know access to affordable, reliable & quality child care is a top priority for NJ families & it’s critical to our economic health. Beginning Monday, 11/1 we will increase child care reimbursement rates by an avg of 25% in the @NJDHS child-care assistance program. https://t.co/xV1w2gzCQN
— Sarah Adelman (she/her) (@sarahmadelman) October 27, 2021
For parents who select a provider with a rating from Grow NJ Kids quality improvement program, that rate jumps even further. For instance, infant care at a Grow NJ Kids program will now be at least $1,326 per month.
“We urge anyone seeking assistance with child care to learn more by visiting childcarenj.gov and contacting your local county Child Care Resource and Referral Agency,” said Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson, who directs Human Services’ Division of Family Development, which oversees the child care program. “We are here to support families with information about applying for assistance and finding quality child care.”