ACNJ applauds the efforts of State Senate Majority Leader Ruiz to #ReimagineChildCare
Today, State Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D- 29) introduced a comprehensive package of bills that would invest $360 million for child care in New Jersey. Legislative proposals in the package, co-sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale, Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, include expanding family eligibility for tuition assistance, extending measures to stabilize child care program funding and incentivizing employers to support child care. The proposal also includes the creation of a new Department of Early Childhood. ACNJ is particularly interested in the proposal to expand child care for infants and toddlers, which continues to be the most difficult for families to find and afford.
Senator Ruiz believes "[t]hese investments will not only benefit our parents and our child care providers but also our entire state. Access to affordable, high-quality child care improves outcomes and pays dividends, every dollar invested offers a $4-$9 return in individual and community benefits. As we face worker shortages across industries, reducing the cost of child care will allow more parents to return to the workforce at a time when we need it most. This multipronged approach works to tackle this issue from every angle to ensure the maximum impact on our economy and our children.”
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the longstanding cracks in the foundation of New Jersey’s child care system, and while funding through several federal child care initiatives has helped to address the most immediate problems, better solutions and greater state support are needed to build the accessible, affordable, equitable child care system of the future for New Jersey families, programs and staff.
ACNJ commends Senator Ruiz for her leadership in sponsoring this critically important legislation. Child care is essential for families and for our economy and is the educational opportunity for our youngest children. This is an important first step toward building a strong New Jersey early care and education system, but it will take an organized advocacy campaign with every stakeholder, including members of the child care community and parents, playing a role to bring about change. Sign up for the Reimagine Child Care Campaign to get the latest updates on child care issues, and to make sure your voice can be heard!
Over the coming months, ACNJ will provide information as the legislation is introduced on steps you can take to communicate with your legislators and Governor Murphy on how important these bills are to parents, programs and of course, the children.
What's In The Legislative Package?
- S.2475 – Ruiz/Cunningham: Establish the Department of Early Childhood to provide focused and integrated development of 0 to 5 care and education.
- S.2476 – Ruiz/Vitale: Provide funding for the expansion of infant and toddler seats by 1,000, reimbursed at $22,000 per seat, prioritizing providers in communities identified as child care deserts, areas with high percentage low-income families, as well as those that align their child care center with high quality preschool.
- S.2477 – Ruiz/Cruz-Perez: Require new preschool programs or seat expansions to use private providers for at least 50% of their preschool slots.
- S.2478 – Ruiz/Vitale: Extend the enrollment-based payment model currently set to expire on June 30, 2022. The bill would extend the program for three years, with a report on the impact at the end of this year and the end of the three years.
- S.2479 – Ruiz: Provide tax incentives to employers who provide child care in their facilities, reimburse parents for their child care expenses or contract with private providers so their employees can enroll their children in those child care programs.
- S.1099 – Vitale/Ruiz: Allows a gross income tax credit for a child care staff members who have been employed by a child care provider or worked as a registered family day care provider for a minimum of 1,260 hours for a six month period during the taxable year.
- S.2480 – Ruiz/Vitale: Extend child care subsidies to families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty line.
- S.2465 – Vitale/Ruiz: Require the Department of Human Services to establish a quality-based reimbursement system for registered family day care providers participating in Grow NJ Kids.
- SJR.79 – Ruiz/Cunningham/Vitale/Cruz-Perez: Designate the first full week of April as the “Week of the Young Child” in New Jersey.