New Jersey’s Future Depends on Affordable, Quality Child Care
Why Child Care Quality Matters
- In the first three years of life, brain connections form at the rate of more than one million new neural connections per second. Positive interactions with nurturing caregivers reinforce these connections that help to build a strong foundation for the development and learning necessary for children to thrive as adults.
- Quality child care prepares babies for future success. Studies show that during the early years, high-quality child care improves language, mental health, and social and emotional development.
- Quality child care leads to higher school achievement, greater employment, increased earnings and better health outcomes as adults.
- Quality child care not only fuels New Jersey’s economic engine by helping parents work, but also builds the workforce of the future.
- Quality child care helps our youngest children to thrive, while giving employers a stable workforce and strengthening the economic health of our families, our neighborhoods and the state as a whole.
Child Care Cost
- Today, 66 percent of New Jersey’s babies have all parents in the workforce, yet there is only enough availability in licensed child care centers for 27 percent of these babies.
- Infant-toddler child care, especially high-quality care, is expensive. In New Jersey, the median weekly cost for center-based child care for an infant is $222. All children, regardless of a parent’s income, deserve quality child care.
- The cost of center-based, infant child care remains unaffordable for many families. In New Jersey, child care costs ranges from $12,000 to $15,000 for an infant or toddler annually. (Quality Costs How Much? Estimating the Cost of Quality Child Care in New Jersey, p. 9)
- Quality matters when it comes to child care. Quality is linked to the level of education and experience of a early childhood educator. To ensure a well-trained workforce, the state needs stronger education requirements for staff caring for infants and toddlers tied to increased compensation.
- The child care system is not set up to meet the needs of today’s workforce. Meaningful state and federal investments are needed to make quality child care more affordable and accessible for working families.
- New Jersey falls short in delivering affordable, reliable child care options for working parents, as centers struggle to provide quality child care that parents can afford. Centers in low-income communities, in particular, are hardest hit.
- For centers that provide subsidized child care, the reimbursements are often too low to meet even their basic expenses – staff, rent and utilities, let alone make and sustain improve quality infant-toddler care.
- Working families eligible for financial assistance have difficulty finding quality
center-based care that will accept these subsidies.
- New Jersey’s infant care payment to providers caring for babies in low-income working families remains far below national standards for quality care. The state needs to increase payment rates to providers based on the true cost of providing quality child care, allowing families with fewer resources equal access to quality.
- The future begins with babies. It’s time New Jersey makes babies a priority by making meaningful investments to give our families affordable quality child care!