ACNJ Participates in Child Care Site Visit/Roundtable with Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (CD-11)

Posted on April 29, 2024

ACNJ staff members (Shadaya Bennett and Keith Hadad) participated in a congressional site visit and round table discussion on child care workforce compensation at Sandy Lane Nursery in Belleville with Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (CD-11), Assemblywoman Carmen Morales and Assemblyman Michael Venezia. Organized by New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children (NJAEYC), the visit provided an opportunity for child care providers to discuss the need for increased funding to support child care providers. 

As Meghan Tavormina, the Director of Public Policy for NJAEYC, pointed out at the meeting, the recent increase of $725 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (federal)—of which allows our state to assist low-income, working families in affording child care—is a crucial step forward, but it is still just the early stages of mending a long history of inadequate federal funding.

Tavormina and Sandy Lane’s faculty and staff went on to explain how high overhead costs for running child care programs, rising inflation and the elimination of Federal financial assistance are forcing centers to keep their employees severely underpaid and thereby worsening the current child care staffing crisis.

Commenting on this for a video that was filmed at the site visit, ACNJ’s Senior Legislative Analyst, Shadaya Bennett, said “We need targeted funding and policy investments to support the industry to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce. The average salary for child care workers is $32,000, which are poverty wages in our state. Providers need support to be able to compensate the workforce based on their skills and the value they bring to our children and society.”

Congresswoman Sherrill spoke to the importance of quality education in the earliest developmental years of a child’s life—as well as the financial toll on young parents when they are unable to work due to a lack of affordable child care.

The Congresswoman is co-leading the Child Care Stabilization Act to extend the initial child care stabilization funds that she fought to have included in the American Rescue Plan for another five years. To make an even greater impact, she also introduced the Child Care for Every Community Act in The House (federal). Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren [D-MA], the bill would establish a network of federally supported, locally administered child care options to expand access to affordable yet high-quality and early learning opportunities and care.

“In addition to ensuring that childcare is affordable for every family, this bill invests in child care workers by requiring that wages and benefits for [early] child care educators be comparable to those of similarly credentialed local public school teachers and invest in worker training and professional development modeled after the military child care program,” said Sherrill.