What’s New?

Share with Legislators ACNJ president’s Op-ed supporting legislative bills to invest in child care.

Posted on April 21, 2022

It's time to address the long-time child care crisis in New Jersey.  The pandemic didn’t create it – it exposed it.

Let's urge legislators to support Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz's comprehensive package of bills that would help parents, strengthen programs and support staff. One bill, S-2476 (pending introduction), incentivizes the development of child care for infants and toddlers, the most difficult for families to find.

Share the op-ed authored by ACNJ President Cecilia Zalkind describing this historic proposal.

The package comes with a $360 million price tag. But we need to tell state leaders that this is an investment we cannot afford not to make.

Read the Op-Ed

New Jersey's commitment to children has led to extraordinary advances, putting the state ahead of the rest of the country and most importantly, improving the lives and well-being of newborns and preschool-age children.

But we are still missing the babies.

Let's make some noise for child care  and take a moment to send a message to your state leaders that this is a critical investment for children, families and for our economy.

During this legislative session, ACNJ is calling on the state to:

  • Improve access to infant/toddler care by increasing the number of available child care programs;
  • Expand child care assistance for parents of very young children; and
  • Support the child care workforce, who have historically been underfunded and underappreciated
reimagine-child-care

Unlocking Potential: Our Ambitious Roadmap to Close Inequities for NJ Babies

Posted on June 24, 2020

In order to give all children a strong and equitable start in life, New Jersey must begin with an intentional focus on eliminating racial inequities and disparities in access to essential supports, according to a new report, Unlocking Potential, released today by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ).

Read Unlocking Potential, A Roadmap to Making New Jersey the Safest, Healthiest and Most Supportive Place to Give Birth and Raise a Family

The statewide plan, funded by the Pritzker Children's Initiative (PCI), provides the action steps needed to achieve concrete targets related to early childhood development with the goal of ensuring an additional 25 percent of low-income infants and toddlers - 27,000 young children - will have access to high-quality services by 2023. These supports include access to quality child care, home visiting, health and mental health services.

Unlocking Potential is based on the belief that we all have a role to play in achieving equity and that supporting equal opportunities at the start of a child’s life is the first step in eliminating disparities that impact outcomes for babies, families and communities. The foundation for change is in place; the opportunity is now!

 

Did you know ARP Stabilization Funds had profound effects on the Child Care Industry and the Families that depend on it?

Posted on February 26, 2024

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By Olivia Carrara
Leontine Young Fellow

For more information on this topic, contact Olivia at ocarrara@acnj.org

Did You Know Blog Banner

ACNJ has always believed that investments in child care would have multiple positive impacts on the child care industry, and now we have more proof! ACNJ has previously established the importance of the child care stabilization grants through surveys and focus groups with child care providers, and now a new study by the White House confirms that, and so much more. During the Covid-19 pandemic, child care employment fell by approximately 30% as numerous child care centers were forced to close their doors. This decline in child care availability forced countless mothers out of the workplace due to their inability to find care for their children. As a remedy, the Biden Administration invested $24 billion in funding for child care providers in March of 2021. These American Rescue Plan (ARP) Stabilization funds were provided in an effort to keep child care centers from closing by issuing grants to assist with paying staff and facility fees, and maintaining the centers through periods of closures and shutdowns. While it was widely believed that these stabilization funds led to an increase in child care access, the new study revealed evidence to in fact affirm this belief, and further suggested that these funds reduced price increases, increased the number of child care workers, raised their wages, and even increased maternal participation in the labor force.

The study published by the White House used comparison groups to identify the impact of the stabilization funds. The study first estimated the effect the funds had on child care prices and found that, on average, families saved roughly $1,200 per year when stabilization funds were provided. Evidence showed, following the disbursement of stabilization funds, that wages for child care workers increased by 10% and child care employment increased by about 7%. The study used this information to conclude that the stabilization funds were primarily spent on decreasing child care prices for families, while simultaneously increasing child care wages and employment.

On average, the ARP Stabilization funds saved families roughly
$1200
in child care costs 
per year.

Wages for child care
workers increased by
10%

Child care
employment
increased
by approximately

7%

The study went further to investigate whether the stabilization funds led to changes in the maternal labor force. The researchers examined employment patterns in mothers of young children compared to women with older children and those without children, thereby showing the effects child care access may have on maternal workforce participation. The trends were similar prior to the pandemic and stabilization funds, indicating that the groups can be compared. The stabilization funds led to a 2% increase in labor force participation within 6 months. After two years, it was revealed that the participation of mothers with young children in the labor force increased by approximately 3%. The participation rates did not change for mothers with older children, revealing that an outside influence led to the other increases.

With all of the information gathered from the study, researchers were able to conclude that stabilization funds can have profound effects on child care supply, and increasing child care availability can have impacts on the labor market. The data suggests that the ARP stabilization funds had a benefit-cost ratio of roughly 2:1. The success of the ARP stabilization funds reveal the countless benefits that can result from investing in, and supporting, the child care industry. Funding child care can decrease child care prices, increase wages for child care workers, close the employment gap, and increase the number of mothers in the labor force--all factors that contribute to a better functioning and more successful society.

New Jersey Legislative Fact Sheet 2024 – Early Learning

Posted on February 22, 2024

Did you know that early childhood supports are crucial for a child’s success?

Posted on February 14, 2024

Alena Siddiqui Data Analyst

By Alena Siddiqui
Data Analyst

For more information on this topic or kids count data, contact Alena at asiddiqui@acnj.org

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In continuation of the 2024 Race for Results series, this week’s blog post focuses on Early Childhood. An emphasis on a child’s early years is essential to their well-being and their future. As advocates, decision makers, and concerned community members, it is crucial to understand data concerning young ones and how to best address any concerns so that all children have a strong foundation. 

For early childhood, the two indicators that The Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights are the percentage of babies born at a normal birthweight and the percentage of children enrolled in an early childhood program. Focusing first on the percentage of babies born at normal birthweight, this accounted for 92% of babies born in New Jersey in 2021 (Table 1). In comparison with 2016, the percentage of babies born at normal birthweight in New Jersey has not really seen any change even when broken down by race or ethnicity. The report cited that babies born at low birthweights (less than 5.5 pounds) may be at more risk of developing particular health problems than babies born at normal birthweights.

r4r part 2 blog table 1
r4r part 2 blog table 2.2

Based on data collected during 2017 to 2021, 70% of New Jersey’s children ages 3 to 5 were enrolled in nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten compared to 58% nationwide. The Annie E. Casey Foundation notes that early childhood education helps to give children a steady foundation for developing skills and learning. Comparing data from 10 years ago to now, this number was previously 73% (Table 2). Non-hispanic Black or African American children decreased from 77% to 71%, non-Hispanic White children decreased from 76% to 73%, and children of two or more races decreased from 73% to 68% in the past 10 years.

A possible explanation for this decrease is that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents chose not to enroll their children in the early childhood programs due to safety concerns, while others chose not due to costs. However, New Jersey has been making progress with more children attending state-funded, full-day preschool. As a result, more families have the opportunity to enroll their kids if they choose to do so.

The 2024 Race for Results report has many other interesting indicators with regard to the well-being of our children. You can learn more about the report and access it here.

ACNJ Joins Child Care Site Visit, Hosted by Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill

Posted on February 10, 2024

ACNJ staff members (Shaday Bennett and Winifred Smith-Jenkins) attended a site visit to the Clinton Hill Early Learning Center in Newark, hosted by Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (CD- 11) where federal, state, and local officials along with advocates came together to highlight the importance of child care. Joined by two local state lawmakers – Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, the press conference drew attention to the significance of the child tax credit and the importance of bolstering our child care system (infrastructure, access, quality).

The House (federal) recently passed a package of tax bills that includes a measure which will expand the federal child tax credit. If signed into law, the credit limit will increase to $1,800 for the 2023 tax year (retroactively), $1,900 for 2024, and $2,000 for 2025 – up from the current $1,600 limit.

The Child Care Stabilization Act (also federal) is a measure sponsored by the Congresswoman to extend federal grants to child care providers as the previously funded Child Care Stabilization Grant Program expired in September. I believe the measure would extend funds for an additional year. Also believe the bill has only been introduced with no further action.

Did you know nearly half of U.S. parents struggle with diaper need?

Posted on February 8, 2024

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By Olivia Carrara Leontine Young Fellow

For more information on this topic, contact Olivia at ocarrara@acnj.org

Did You Know Blog Banner

Diaper need is defined as parents’ and caregivers’ inability to provide a sufficient supply of diapers to keep their babies clean, dry, and healthy. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, 47% of U.S. parents reported diaper need in 2023.

On average, infants need their diapers changed 10 to 12 times a day, adding up to around $80 a month per child, for an average of three years. This cost continues to rise as diaper prices have increased upwards of 22% since 2018. As a result of these high costs, 48% of parents reported that they delayed diaper change due to insufficient supply. This delay increases the risk of health complications like rashes and urinary tract infections in children.

47%
of families reported
diaper need
in 2023

On average,
a child uses
50
diapers per week
for 3 years

48%
of parents delay
diaper change due
to insufficient
supply

For families, diaper need often leads to financial struggles, decreased work attendance, increased stress, and mental health impacts. Many U.S. parents struggling with diaper need report cutting back other expenditures, like food and utilities, to afford diapers. Additionally, many NJ child care programs require parents to provide diapers, thus limiting child care access for families unable to provide them. 25% of parents with diaper need reported missing about five days of work or school per month as a result of being unable to provide the required diaper supply needed to drop their child off at child care.

The National Diaper Bank Network works to address diaper need across the country and helps coordinate a network of diaper banks in each state. New Jersey has a total of nine diaper banks associated with the national network. These nine banks serve approximately 10,024 infants and toddlers a month, and distribute about 6,014,543 diapers a year.

As a result of this growing need, state and federal legislators have begun proposing legislation to support families and increase access to diapers and diapering supplies. Here are a few pieces of legislation currently being discussed:

  • The End Diaper Need Act of 2023 (H.R. 5644/S. 2879)- Introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro in the House of Representatives, and Senator Tammy Duckworth and Senator Kevin Cramer in the Senate, the End Diaper Need Act of 2023 hopes to use federal funding to eliminate diaper need. Passage of the bill would authorize the use of $200 million annually from 2024 to 2027 to provide diapers and diapering supplies to families throughout the U.S. The bill would also expand the use of Medicaid by providing families with medically complex children 200 diapers a month, and permitting the purchase of diapers using Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). The bill was introduced in September of 2023 and has yet to be voted on.
  • Improving Diaper Affordability Act (H.R. 3352)- Introduced by Congresswomen Bonnie Watson Coleman, Rosa DeLauro, and Barbara Lee, this legislation would prohibit state and local taxation of diapers, while also making the purchase of diapers using HRAs reimbursable. The bill was introduced in May of 2023 and has yet to be voted on.
  • New Jersey Legislature Bill (A2027 previously A5662/S3035)- This bill, introduced in the NJ State Legislature, intends to establish a Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) diaper benefit program. WFNJ is New Jersey’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program which provides families with cash assistance and other supports. If passed, this proposal would provide WFNJ participants with a diaper benefit equal to $30 a month per dependent under 36 months of age, thus decreasing the monthly cost of diapers by 37.5%. This bill was passed by the Senate on June 26, 2023, but was not passed prior to the end of the 2023 session. The bill was reintroduced on January 9, 2024.

Diaper need is an issue that deserves greater awareness and support. It is crucial that state and federal policies recognize this need and individuals advocate for diaper access. Currently, diaper banks in New Jersey rely solely on individual contributions and donations. Without these donations, diaper banks would all shut down within weeks as their supply would run out. For this reason, donating funds or diapers to local diaper banks directly helps serve families in need. Individuals can support this cause by reaching out to their legislators, volunteering at a local diaper bank, holding a diaper drive, or simply starting the conversation about diaper need.

Last year, ACNJ held a Lunch and Learn webinar on diaper need in New Jersey in partnership with the Central Jersey Diaper Bank. The webinar can be viewed here.