What’s New?

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

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

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

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!


Governor Signs Thriving by Three Act to Increase Infant/Toddler Child Care.

Today, Governor Murphy signed the Thriving by Three Act, which includes bills S2476 and A4179, into law. With widespread support, this legislation passed unanimously in both houses. Special thanks to our early childhood champions Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who were the bill's main sponsors. This legislation will:

  • bring long-awaited relief to some parents who need child care for their babies to return to work;
  • help providers struggling to find staff to care for infants and toddlers who need care; and
  • be key to New Jersey's economic recovery.

In addition, Governor Murphy signed into law New Jersey's first Young Child Tax Credit (Bill S2523), led by the New Jersey Policy Perspective, which would give families up to $500 per child under age 6.

Read more about today's legislative actions:

Today's win is a culmination of months and years of persistent advocacy. We want to send a heartfelt thank you to our parents and child care providers who have taken the time to contact their local lawmakers, testify at legislative committee hearings, write to their community newspapers and spread the word about giving families a strong start!


GREAT NEWS. The Thriving by Three Act has passed! 

Thank you Governor and our legislative champions:

Primary Sponsor:
Ruiz, M. Teresa
Vitale, Joseph F.
Coughlin, Craig J.
Jasey, Mila M.
Sumter, Shavonda E.
Quijano, Annette

Cruz-Perez, Nilsa I.
Cryan, Joseph P.
Cunningham, Sandra B.
Stanfield, Jean
Turner, Shirley K.
Zwicker, Andrew
O'Scanlon, Declan J., Jr.
Pou, Nellie
McKnight, Angela V.
Benson, Daniel R.
Reynolds-Jackson, Verlina
Park, Ellen J.
Mosquera, Gabriela M.
Wimberly, Benjie E.
Jimenez, Angelica M.
Lopez, Yvonne
Swain, Lisa
Moen, William F., Jr.
Pintor Marin, Eliana
Lampitt, Pamela R.

Urge legislators to pass the Thriving by Three Act to increase infant/toddler child care.

The Thriving by Three Act, which includes bills S2476 and A4179, is being heard in budget committee meetings today and will be voted on in both houses on Wednesday.

Urge your legislators in the House and the Assembly to vote YES - YES to legislation that will:

  • bring long-awaited relief to parents, who need child care for their babies, so that they can return to work;
  • help providers struggling to find staff to care for infants and toddlers that need care; and
  • will be key to New Jersey's economic recovery.

Send a message today!


GREAT NEWS. The Thriving by Three Act has passed! 

Thank you Governor and New Jersey Legislators for making babies a state priority.

Updated Special Education Guide Released

Special education can be a difficult process to navigate. ACNJ, with the generous support of The IOLTA Fund of the Bar of New Jersey, has released its updated Special Education Guide, helping parents and caregivers to understand their child's education rights in New Jersey.

Click on the page to flip to the next page.

Download PDF

See Something, Say Something: Social Media’s Role in Protecting Children

Mary Coogan, Esq.,
ACNJ Vice President

Opinion Piece
By Mary Coogan, Esq.
ACNJ Vice President

The horrific murder of 19 children in Texas is something no parent or community should have to suffer. The immediate reaction was terror, followed by the expected political rhetoric. We have heard this all before without resolution. Hopefully, this time will be different, with thoughtful people engaging in a real conversation concerning sensible gun laws without the finger-pointing.

In the meantime, what else might we consider doing? In light of all the posts on social media, one thing that comes to mind is how to use social media to save lives. News reports tell us that the latest shooter posted a photo of two AR15-style rifles to an Instagram account just three days before the massacre at Robb Elementary School, and direct messages were sent on Facebook just before the shooting. According to CNN reporters, the shooter of ten people at the Tops grocery store earlier this month also posted plans to social media before the shooting. The Parkland School shooter posted his desire to “shoot people with my AR-15” on social media months before he shot students at the school. News articles confirm that a YouTube comment saying, “I'm going to be a professional school shooter,” was reported to the FBI. Clearly, these individuals were a known dangerous risk looking for attention.

There have been endless articles and discussions among reporters and pundits about whether social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and others, have the right to terminate users based upon their posts. Without weighing in on that “free speech” debate, I want to focus on the fact that these social media platforms use algorithms to remove users. Many, if not all, social media platforms use algorithms to help maintain order and assist in ranking search results and advertisements. So why can’t Facebook and other social media platforms develop an algorithm that identifies a potential mass murderer by their post(s) advertising their intention to shoot up a school or to kill some people at a store? Once a potential shooter is identified, local school counselors and protective services could be notified immediately.

One might argue that this notification would trample the poster’s rights and liberties. While the right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court has held that several of the Amendments create this right to privacy, or what the Court referred to in Katz v United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967) as a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” However, when it comes to social media, that right to privacy “is almost non-existent”. Courts have concluded that something one voluntarily posts to Facebook no longer carries a reasonable expectation of privacy. Thus, a potential killer gives up their right to privacy by sharing their intentions to kill on social media.

While initially private enterprises, several social media platforms have become what lawyers and economists often call “The Commons.” Much like other Commons such as utilities, it might be appropriate to regulate them in this matter.

If they argue against it, claiming that servers are “private property,” maybe they can work on an effective protocol. If not, Congress should pass a law to authorize these protocols and compel social media platforms to identify and notify authorities of potential shooters.

The first amendment gives us the right to post, but that post has consequences. A person advertising their intention to commit murder can and should be stopped. As far as I know, it is a rare individual who supports the shooting of children.


Updated Kinship Legal Guardian (KLG) Guide Released!

Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG) may be an option for certain Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) cases when the child has been under a resource parent's care for a long time, and it is unlikely that the child will be able to be safely reunited with their parent. Learn about KLG and what it entails in our updated guide. Note, this guide is offered as part of ACNJ's KidLaw Resource Center. Learn more about KidLaw at https://acnj.org/kidlaw

Download PDF