NEW JERSEY — As the start of the new academic year quickly approaches, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced $250 million will be invested in child care to give working parents the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor made the announcement outside the Edgar Early Learning Center in Metuchen Friday morning.
As many schools have opted to begin the academic year remotely or partially remote, Murphy acknowledged tens of thousands of parents have expressed concern about child care and affording care for their kids during school hours.
“Many questions have remained about how we’re going to keep our children safe as parents return to work and the new school year begins,” he said.
The money is part of New Jersey’s allocation of the federal coronavirus relief fund.
“As schools work through what it’ll take for them to reopen, families are in a difficult spot. Parents need to work. Parents who are essential workers need to be at work. Parents who can work from home need to be on calls and virtual meetings and meet that critical deadline, and parents who live with their children in multigenerational households need to find the space to do their work and help their children and keep their COVID-vulnerable older relatives safe,” Commissioner of the Dept. of Human Services Carole Johnson said.
It is challenging, if not impossible to work from home or be at your essential job while teaching their children during the day, she added.
Johnson also acknowledged the “heartbreaking” effects of the pandemic is the increasing talk that women are leaving the workforce because of the burden of working remotely and remote learning.
The $250 million has been separated into four different “buckets,” according to the governor.
- ($50 million) Restart grant funds given to child care providers that will open by Oct. 1, increasing the availability of child care options for parents
- Stabilization grants will help with added operational costs due to COVID-19 health and safety precautions, including PPE and sanitation supplies
- This will be available to the nearly 6,000 child care providers (4,000 child care centers, roughly 2,000 family care centers.)
- Awards vary based on program’s census size.
- ($30 million) Child care providers will receive a subsidy grant, which is about $75 per subsidy-eligible child per month from September to December.
- ($20 million) Full-time subsidies for working families making less than 200% of the poverty level that require child care during the school day.
- Those subsidies will not only be provided for before and after care, but also during school hours.
- ($150 million) Establishes tuition assistance for families not eligible for subsidy, but earn up to $75,000 per year.
- This will be available for parents with school-aged children (ages 5-13) that need child care through the end of the calendar year.
- State will fund the families’ selected licensed child care center or registered child care provider based on the hours of care needed.
- Applications open early September.
“By helping working families, we are one step closer to our recovery from this crisis and getting our economy back on track,” Murphy said.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Dept. of Human Services has taken several steps to support child care, including the creation of emergency child care programs for essential workers and delivering PPE to those emergency child care centers.
Schools in New Jersey closed mid-March to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, students have been participating in remote learning.
Although Gov. Murphy announced each region in the state remains on track to reopening school buildings next month, over 100 school districts have opted to begin the next academic year remotely.