Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation (S3990) appropriating $100 million in American Rescue Plan funds to the Department of Community Affairs to support childcare providers and the childcare workforce through a number of initiatives, including providing grants for facilities improvements, business technical assistance, workforce development supports, and a study of the childcare landscape in the state. The Department of Community Affairs will make $15.5 million available to the Department of Children and Families (DCF), $54.5 million available to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), and $30 million available to the Department of Human Services (DHS)
“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inequities created by the lack of access to affordable childcare that many working families face,” said Governor Murphy. “This funding, made possible by the Biden Administration, will assist our childcare providers and childcare workforce that have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and beyond in our state. Without access to childcare, many New Jerseyans are unable to work to provide for themselves and their families. This aid will be meaningful help for the many providers and childcare employees that stepped up during the pandemic to take care of the children of essential workers and many others.
“No mother or father should be confronted with the impossible choice of caring for their child or being able to financially provide for them, but the pandemic has forced working families, especially working mothers, to make the difficult decision to leave their jobs,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “This legislation is going to provide direct funding for our valued childcare providers whose operations were financially impacted by COVID-19 to help ensure that working families will have access to high-quality and affordable childcare as they reenter the workforce and beyond.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored how crucial childcare centers and the workers they employ are to our state’s economy and the well-being of so many of our state’s children and families,” said Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer. “These businesses and workers will continue to be vital to our communities as we move through pandemic recovery. The funding provided by this statute will allow us to reinvest in these essential services and bolster the childcare sector to better meet the changing needs of families moving forward.
“Clearly childcare is critical to the health and safety of our children, but it is also essential to the equitable recovery and long-term resilience of the state’s economy,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Governor Murphy and his entire administration are committed to ensuring that New Jersey’s thousands of childcare providers have the resources they need to strengthen their business operations, make improvements to their facilities, rehire staff, and grow. Increasing support for New Jersey’s childcare providers will create a safer, more enriching environment for the children they serve while allowing parents and caregivers to remain in the workforce so they may sustain thriving families.”
“Safe, affordable and reliable childcare in New Jersey is vital to our economy and for working families throughout our state, especially working moms who have been disproportionately affected during the pandemic,” said Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “New Jersey’s childcare providers were on the front lines during the pandemic, and the Murphy Administration has been committed to supporting them even before the pandemic. This funding will bolster our efforts, and make clear once again that we consider childcare providers to be critical to the success of our state.
Primary sponsors for S3990 include Senators Shirley K. Turner and M. Teresa Ruiz, and Assemblymembers Lisa Swain, Andrew Zwicker, Vincent Mazzeo, Joanne Downey, Roy Freiman, Gabriela M. Mosquera, Shanique Speight, and Craig J. Coughlin
“While all parents have been affected by childcare and school closures, working mothers have been hit the hardest, with 1.6 million fewer women reported in the workforce in January 2021,” said Senator Shirley K. Turner. “Without access to affordable childcare, parents across the state will continue to face the difficult decision of choosing to care for their children or to pursue a career. Our residents cannot afford a childcare shortage. This funding is an integral piece in ensuring we have the childcare providers we need as we enter into the next phase of the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is critical we have the infrastructure in place to support the anticipated move back to in-person work. This funding will ensure providers around the state are able to keep their doors open and meet the growing demand expected in the months ahead,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz. “We cannot afford to allow this industry to collapse; this much needed investment will ensure they are able to continue to serve our communities and care for our children. This is not only important now, in the wake of the pandemic, but always, as it plays an integral part in how we support our diverse workforce.
“As our state continues to come out of this crisis, one key component of our recovery that we cannot ignore is the restoration of child-care services. Many of the child-care programs that made it through the pandemic are now struggling to stay afloat. Without our support, they may be unable to expand services or continue to stay in business,” said the Assembly sponsors in a statement. “New Jersey will be a model for the rest of the country in offering financial support to struggling providers. This will not only show our appreciation for the invaluable services they supplied during an unprecedented crisis, but will ensure our child-care providers can continue to offer these services going forward.”
S3990 establishes the Child Care Revitalization Fund, which will provide financial support to licensed or registered childcare providers. The bill allocates $15.5 million to DCF to create workforce development supports and conduct a childcare landscape study. The bill further allocates $54.5 million to the NJEDA for the purposes of providing technical assistance to licensed or registered childcare providers, and grants to childcare providers for facilities improvements. The legislation also allocates $30 million to DHS for the purpose of providing grants to licensed or registered childcare providers or their employees for workforce retention and hiring.
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