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New Jersey

Our lead ally in New Jersey, Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ), works for a future where all New Jersey children grow up healthy, safe, and educated. They educate, inform, and engage leaders and the public on children’s needs through research, data, and policy analysis. As one of their priorities, ACNJ works with local and state groups to promote high-quality early education from infancy to age 8.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 51% (156,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 56% (195,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

On June 30, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the state’s fiscal 2024 budget, which provides for $54.5 billion in total state fund appropriations and $26.1 billion in federal fund

Largest Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers) (FY 2021):4

    • Property Taxes: $3,537 per capita
    • Individual Income Taxes: $1,816 per capita

Political Alignment: Aligned Democrat

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Democrat controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Democrat.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  Two

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Legislature-Initiated Bond Questions – A question placed before voters to approve or reject proposed spending that yields a long-term debt..

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

New Jersey advocates’ efforts delivered dividends in 2023, most notably in the appropriation of $116 million of new state dollars to support the state’s preschool expansion efforts, bringing spending to more than $1.1 billion on state-funded preschool this fiscal year. Families with young children will also benefit from a doubling of the child tax credit from $500 to $1000 for children with families under 6. 

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

$116 million additional funds for state-funded preschool, $40 million of which will go towards expanding public preschool in new districts. This amount will bring the total state funding for preschool to more than $1.1 billion. New school districts receiving this aid are required to demonstrate due diligence in establishing partnerships to provide its preschool program with licensed child care and Head Start programs that are willing and able to meet the standards.

The continuation of COVID-related child care policies, including child care payments based on enrollment, $300/month/child for subsidy family differential payment, and parent co-pay waivers.

$500,000 to establish a program that provides an enhanced payment for well-child and sick visit claims submitted for children under four years of age at Healthy Steps sites.

A doubling of the current state-level child tax credit from a maximum of $500 to a $1000 refundable tax credit for families with children under the age of 6 whose earnings are $80,000 or less.

$15.5 million for the Universal Nurse Home Visitation Program.

$32 million for the Maternal and Infant Health Innovation Authority and the Maternal Innovation Center, which will be located in Trenton. The center will focus on innovation and research in maternal and infant health through partnerships with the state’s academic, funder, business and faith communities.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is funding an additional $50 million of American Rescue Plan dollars for the Child Care Facilities Improvement Program, which will now total approximately $75 million. An additional $10 million will be available for family child care homes. NJEDA that this first round of grants will impact the learning and development of approximately 2,500 children and improve the health and safety of work environments for over 600 teachers and administrators.

Additionally, advocates continue to work to move a child care package of bills through both Houses of the State Legislature. A bill was introduced in the Assembly and the Senate that will provide categorical eligibility for subsidized child care services to certain child care workers.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy 

The Alliance’s lead grantee in New Jersey, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Preschool and Pre-K

Child and
Maternal Health

Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health


Home Visiting

Paid Family Leave



Several States Celebrate Wins on State-Level Child Tax Credits

Federal and state child tax credits have historically received bipartisan support. These tax credits for families with children under age 17 provide financial relief for low-income families and their children and support economic mobility. New Jersey, Vermont, and RI have recently chosen to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to enact state-level child tax credits.

Read More »


1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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