Sherrill Takes Action to Extend Child Care Funding and Avert Crisis for New Jersey Families and Providers

Posted on September 13, 2023

Sherrill Continues Fighting to Bring Down the Cost of Child Care for New Jersey Parents and For Months Has Sounded the Alarm on the Child Care Cliff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), alongside House and Senate Democratic leadership, introduced the Child Care Stabilization Act, which will extend critical federal grants to child care facilities in New Jersey and across the country. If passed, this legislation would ensure the U.S. doesn’t hit a funding cliff — which would be devastating for families and the U.S. economy — when the previous federal funds expire at the end of September.

“As a federal child care funding cliff quickly approaches, the Child Care Stabilization Act will protect economic security for New Jersey parents and help keep the doors open for more than 1,000 child care centers across the Garden State,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill. “We know that child care isn’t just a women’s issue — it’s an economic issue for families and businesses alike. As a mother of four school-age children, I know firsthand many of the challenges parents navigate when searching for affordable child care, and I’m going to continue fighting for them to make New Jersey a better and more affordable place to live, work, and raise a family.”

“During the pandemic, Democrats answered the call of parents and providers and invested $39 billion into our child care system. This historic relief funding allowed parents to return to work, businesses to survive, and our economy to recover,” said Democratic Whip Katherine Clark. “We can’t turn back now. Child care is economic infrastructure — it is critical to growing the economy by growing the middle class. We must urgently enact the Child Care Stabilization Act to protect the financial security of families and workers and maintain our progress in the fight for affordable, high-quality care for all.”

New Jersey leaders also spoke out about the cliff and in support of Sherrill’s efforts:

“Even prior to the pandemic, the child care industry in New Jersey and the nation had its considerable challenges. The loss of American Rescue Plan funding will exacerbate those challenges in this critical industry in the short term and the long term. Extending the Child Care Stabilization Grants will provide much needed support to working families, childcare providers and employers who rely on having a present and functioning workforce,” said Michele Siekerka, President & CEO of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

“Child care across the country is about to fall off a financial cliff that thousands of providers will not recover from,” said Meghan Tavormina, President New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children. “The Child Care Stabilization Act has the ability to provide stable funding to our industry over a period of time that will allow states the time and opportunity to build a sustainable, affordable and accessible early education system that our children, families, early educators, and economy all desperately need.”

“A strong, growing economy is directly linked to the existence of quality, affordable, and accessible child care,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill understands that without this critical infrastructure in place, our most financially vulnerable ALICE workers face choosing between going to work or caring for their children. Continuing these grants provides workers, children, and our communities the greatest opportunity to meet their potential.”

“Child care is an essential need for working families, but this sector has not recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and remains in crisis. Head Start centers and private programs continue to face critical staff shortages, at a time when children and families are coming to us with greater needs than ever. Credentialed staff members are leaving for better paying jobs––jobs that are less stressful and which don't require the intensive training needed for the ‘heart work’ of caring for young children,” said Susan O’Donnell, CEO of the Head Start Community Program of Morris County.  “Child care stabilization funding to support staff wages and operating expenses has enabled many programs to sustain services since the pandemic. Absent this funding, the impact on outcomes for children, families, and the economy is a very real concern if adults—mainly women—are forced to leave the workforce due to a lack of child care. The Child Care Stabilization Act will be a lifeline for early care and education programs, enabling parents to contribute to local economies and work while their children learn and thrive in safe, high-quality settings.”

“The American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) COVID child care funds provided financial stability to the entire child care system that is essential in supporting parents’ ability to go to work and for the economy to grow,” said Cynthia Rice, Senior Policy Analyst at Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “But this system had funding problems long before COVID. While the ARP dollars helped, it resulted in a short-term fix and didn’t address child care’s long-standing problems, such as a lack of teachers due to low wages, and the increasing costs in doing business. Today, child care is the working parents’ and the economy’s version of ‘too big to fail.’ Ask any parent who can’t find or afford care for his/her child or an employer who is struggling to hire staff due to their own problems in finding care. Today, this bill acknowledges that it is time for those long-standing problems to be addressed by providing much-needed funding to ensure that that ‘failure’ never takes place.”

The legislation introduced today extends the Child Care Stabilization grants, first provided through the American Rescue Plan, for an additional five years. Specifically, the bill provides $16 billion annually to support child care centers across the country and keep doors open for parents and children.

Experts estimate that without action, child care centers across the country could be forced to close their doors, costing more than $10 billion in economic activity each year. Parents without affordable child care options will also shoulder the consequences, forced to reduce work hours or drop out of the workforce entirely — this could cost U.S. families more than $9 billion in earnings. The child care workforce is also projected to lose more than 200,000 jobs at a time when the industry is already experiencing a workforce shortage.

In New Jersey, more than 1,000 child care centers are expected to close and more than 100,000 children could lose their child care. The funding cliff will also result in $453 million less in employer productivity and Garden State families will lose nearly $400 million in earnings.

Sherrill has fought tirelessly to avert the funding cliff and to bring down the cost of child care for New Jersey families. Earlier this year, she convened a panel of parents, providers, and business leaders to discuss the need to bring down the cost of childcare, hosted a roundtable with parents at the YMCA of Montclair about their childcare experiences, and visited Head Start Community Program of Morris County to discuss how funding cuts could impact their services. She has also introduced the Child Care for Every Community Act — which is modeled after Head Start and the military’s child care program. The bill would ensure that no family has to pay more than seven percent of their income toward child care expenses.