Beginning a New Year: State Child Care Payment Practices Update

Thanks to the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Murphy, a bill was passed and signed into law in late December requiring child care subsidy payments based on a program’s enrollment, rather than on attendance, to continue. Child care providers throughout the state are beginning the new year with a sigh of relief as a steady stream of much-needed guaranteed and predictable funding is promised through the policy.

This relief however, is short-lived. The law is set to expire June 2022. At that time, the practice may revert back to the previous policy, when payments were based on attendance. This resulted in unstable funding for providers, particularly for those in low-income communities, where programs rely heavily on the subsidy system.

What has become clear in the last two years is that we cannot go back to the pre-pandemic child care system that was inadequate for working families, the committed staff who care for and educate our children and most importantly, for the children themselves. Although this recent announcement is good news, it is only temporary. And for an industry that was deemed “essential” during the height of the pandemic, child care providers continue to struggle to keep their doors open. In this new year, ACNJ remains committed to work collaboratively with the state and other early childhood stakeholders to finally address these issues by developing and implementing a bold, comprehensive system of early education and care. We urge Governor Murphy, our Legislature and all of our early childhood partners to reimagine child care and make a promise to help all of New Jersey’s children thrive.

More Than Just Funding:
New Jersey’s Child Care System Still Needs Help

The problems plaguing the child care system extend far beyond the way in which the state provides subsidy payments and existed long before the pandemic began nearly two years ago. These problems include:

  • A staffing crisis continues to exist. Employees are unwilling to work for chronically low wages, particularly when higher salaried positions, which often include attractive benefits packages, are available;
  • The number of registered family child care homes continue to dwindle, further reducing care options available to working parents, particularly those with very young children; and
  • Families struggle to find child care options for their infants and toddlers, living in infant/toddler child care deserts.