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Affordable, Quality
Child Care

Paid Family Leave

Family Support

Healthy Social-
Emotional Development

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Talk to your neighbors and legislative representatives. Use the talking points below to help make the case for our campaign priorities.

Write an op-ed in your local newspaper. This is an effective way to get the attention of your community and policymakers about these issues. If you are interested in writing an op-ed, contact Hannah Korn-Heilner at 973-643-3876 ext. 216 or email hkornheilner@acnj.org.

Affordable, Quality Child Care
Get informed. Find videos, reports and related links.
Send a message to legislators. Urge them to invest in affordable, quality child care. Click here to contact them today.
Talking Points. Use the talking points below to make the case for affordable, quality child care when contacting your legislators, or writing an op-ed.
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.

More Affordable, Quality Child Care Talking Points

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 range 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 an 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 improved 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!


Paid Family Leave
Get informed. Find videos, reports and related links.
Send a message to Governor Murphy. Thank the Governor for signing the expansion of Family Leave into law. Click here to contact him today.
Talking Points. Use the talking points below to make the case for Paid Family Leave when contacting your legislators, or writing an op-ed.
New Jersey’s Future Needs Paid Family Leave
The time after the birth or adoption of a baby is an essential time of development for babies and families. During this critical bonding period, paid family leave allows working parents the time to foster a nurturing relationship necessary for healthy growth and development.

More Paid Family Leave Talking Points

New Jersey’s Future Needs Paid Family Leave

  • The time after the birth or adoption of a baby is an essential time of development for babies and families. During this critical bonding period, paid family leave allows working parents the time to foster a nurturing relationship necessary for healthy growth and development.
  • Beyond the benefits of forming strong attachments, the availability of paid leave for both parents is associated with improved outcomes. This includes lower rates of infant mortality and postpartum depression and higher rates of breastfeeding, vaccination, doctors’ check-ups and fathers participating in caretaking.
  • New Jersey is one of the few states that offers a paid family leave program.
  • More than 1 million workers at businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not protected from firing or demotion for taking time off to care for their children. These parents are forced with the difficult choice between taking the time to bond with their babies and losing their jobs or economic security.
  • More than 56,000 infants in the Garden State had a working mother in 2016, yet only about 27,000 claims were filed by both fathers and mothers for time to bond with a baby. Supporting a more inclusive and effective paid family leave insurance program has the potential to make New Jersey families stronger, healthier and more economically secure.
  • Now is the time to spread the word about improved paid family leave policies to secure the best beginnings for children and the best future for New Jersey. 

The future begins with babies.  It’s time New Jerseyans take advantage of paid family leave so all babies have the opportunity to bond with their parents during a critical time of their development.


Family Support: Home Visitation Programs
Get informed. Find videos, reports and related links.
Send a message to your legislators. Tell them to invest in Home Visitation Programs. Click here to contact them today.
Talking Points. Use the talking points below to make the case for Home Visitation programs when contacting your legislators, or writing an op-ed.
New Jersey’s future depends on providing access to family supports through home visitation
Quality home visitation programs reach families where they live by matching expectant parents and parents of young children with a trained professional who can provide essential supports to help nurture positive parent-child relationships.

More Family Support Talking Points

New Jersey’s future depends on providing access to family supports through home visitation

  • Quality home visitation programs reach families where they live by matching expectant parents and parents of young children with a trained professional who can provide essential supports to help nurture positive parent-child relationships.
  • High-quality home visiting programs support parents in their critical role as their child’s first and most important teachers, reinforcing positive interactions between parent and child, promoting self-regulation and building self-confidence. This includes increased reading and other activities at home that stimulate communication and learning.
  • Quality, voluntary home visiting leads to fewer children in the child protection system, fewer youth in the juvenile justice system and fewer mental health problems, with considerable cost savings.
  • Decades of research has shown that home visitation, provided by trained professionals, is effective at providing families with family support and child development services during pregnancy and throughout their child’s first years.
  • Quality home visiting programs can increase children’s school readiness and enhance parents’ abilities to support their children’s overall health and well-being and improve family economic self-sufficiency. This results in a significant return on investment.
  • New Jersey has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the nation, but black babies in the state are still three times more likely than their white counterparts to die before their first birthday. Quality home visiting programs can make a big impact on maternal and infant health.

Home visiting programs effectively support healthy development.

  • Expectant mothers that participate in home visitation programs beginning in their pregnancy have better birth outcomes, with positive impacts on breastfeeding and immunization rates as well as lower rates of depression and stress.
  • Quality home visiting programs that provide social support and connections to mental health and economic self-sufficiency reduce parental stress and therefore the likelihood of prolonged elevated stress reactions that can undermine the baby’s development of strong brain architecture.
  • In New Jersey, 49 percent of mothers that participated in home visitation and were screened received a mental health service.

High-quality home visiting programs can improve family economic self-sufficiency.

  • In New Jersey, one in three babies under age 3 live in poverty (35 percent). This negatively impacts their physical, social and emotional development and can impede their ability to learn. Home visitation links parents with important resources such as child care, job training and other family supports to build economic self-sufficiency. The state needs to increase funding that ensures home visiting programs are available to support families that will benefit the most.
  • Home visiting programs that help parents enroll in educational and training programs and pursue employment help counteract the negative consequences of economic insecurity and encourage success at home, in school and at work.

The future begins with babies. New Jersey needs to expand home-visiting programs to make it available to families that will benefit the most.


Healthy Social-Emotional Development
Get informed. Find videos, reports and related links.
Send a message to your legislators. Tell them to support the Healthy Social-Emotional Development of babies. Click here to contact them today.
Talking Points. Use the talking points below to make the case for the need to support the healthy social-emotional development of babies when contacting your legislators, or writing an op-ed.
New Jersey’s Future Depends on Supporting Healthy Social-Emotional Development of Babies
Why Infant-Toddler Social-Emotional Health Matters
The first three years of life, when brain connections form at the rate of more than 1 million new neural connections per second, are crucial for a baby’s social-emotional development, also known as infant mental health.

More Healthy Social-Emotional Development Talking Points

New Jersey’s Future Depends on Supporting Healthy Social-Emotional Development of Babies

Why Infant-Toddler Social-Emotional Health Matters

  • The first three years of life, when brain connections form at the rate of more than 1 million new neural connections per second, are crucial for a baby’s social-emotional development, also known as infant mental health.
  • Parents and caregivers influence babies’ brain development right from the start. Children who feel safe and loved and have the freedom to play form more brain connections, which increases their ability to trust, relate, communicate and learn.
  • As early as three months, well before a baby utters his or her first words, babies experience a whole range of emotions like joy, sadness, anger, interest and excitement. Positive interactions during this time of rapid brain development can impact a baby’s future social and emotional development and help them thrive as adults.
  • Screening babies for healthy social-emotional development is important because negative experiences can have a harmful impact on a baby’s growing brain and their emotional health. Children who experience traumatic events at an early age, known as adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, are exposed to stressors that can lead to learning difficulties in school, and physical and mental health issues throughout life.
  • Compared to other states, New Jersey’s Medicaid plan has uneven or inconsistent coverage for critical infant mental health services for babies, such as social-emotional screenings, mental health consultation services in early care and education settings, parent-child mental health treatments and maternal depression screenings. The state’s Medicaid plan should allow families access to critical mental health screenings and services to promote healthy social-emotional development.
  • Infant mental health professionals are in short supply, preventing families from accessing the support and resources they need. The state needs to build a supply of well-trained infant mental health professionals so more families can have access to services.
  • Infant and family professionals would benefit from specialized training and professional development to meet the needs of infants and toddlers and their families as early as possible.
  • In New Jersey, 102,000 babies are born every year. We can help babies get what their growing brains need by integrating social and emotional development into all early childhood education, health and social service systems (i.e., home visiting, primary care, child care, child protection). A statewide system of infant mental health consultants is needed to provide services in all settings serving young children and their families.

The future begins with babies. It’s time New Jersey makes babies a priority and make meaningful investments to support the social-emotional health of babies.

Our Partners

ACNJ is a lead partner in New Jersey’s Right from the Start campaign and a proud partner of the national ZERO TO THREE Think Babies campaign, working to promote enriching early experiences and a strong foundation for development from the start.

right-from-the-start

RightFromTheStartNJ.org

Learn more about the critical importance of the early years of child development from birth to three.

think-babies

thinkbabies.org

Learn more about the national issues affecting children.