ACNJ Participates in Child Care Site Visit/Roundtable with Congressman Tom Kean Jr.

Posted on May 20, 2024

ACNJ staff members Shadaya Bennett and Keith Hadad were invited to a site visit and roundtable discussion with Congressman Tom Kean Jr. (NJ-07), and his wife, Rhonda, at Temple Emanu-el’s Early Child Care Center in Westfield. Organized by New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children (NJAEYC), this event focused on the child care staffing crisis and why increased funding is necessary to help revitalize the industry.

On May 14, Representatives of NJAEYC, ACNJ, the Temple and specifically its Child Care program, and Congressman Kean all discussed how access to affordable quality child care is essential to a stable and growing economy. Bennett detailed how ACNJ has also been advocating to the state’s legislators to increase funding so providers can raise the wages of their staff to properly compensate for their unique skills and the value that they bring to the community.

“ACNJ, as well as NJAEYC, is having conversations with members of leadership to get them to understand the actual need and to understand that investing in child care shouldn’t be looked at differently than investing in our K-12 system. It’s just as important and maybe even more important,” Bennett said, while conversing directly with Congressman Kean. The congressman agreed, replying, “If we don’t have a reliable and safe child care infrastructure, we don’t have a functioning economy.”

The lack of proper compensation for child care providers in our state and beyond has also snowballed into a shortage of proper quality and experience in the field. If provided with the take-home pay and benefits that these workers actually deserve, then more qualified and skilled employees will fill this workforce. As Meghan Tavormina, the Director of Public Policy for NJAEYC, said, "It's a profession, and not an entry-level job, despite the way that the system is treating it right now. We want these people professionalized. We want them to have paid time off, retirement funds, health benefits, etc.”