by Cecilia Zalkind, President & CEO, Advocates for Children of New Jersey
DHS made it official last week: New Jersey is increasing funding for child care subsidies by $54 million this year — $24 million in new state funds and $30 million earmarked from the additional federal funding all states received last year. It is a particularly meaningful win for ACNJ for several reasons. The additional state funding was the result of our campaign about the need to increase subsidies to help child care programs meet the new minimum wage for staff salaries. Thanks to the great advocacy of our staff, particularly Cynthia Rice, and our wonderful child care partners, we made this an issue no one could ignore.
The greatest increase will go to child care for infants and toddlers. This new funding adds $6.2 million for infant care and another $6.2 million for toddlers. This is the second increase since Gov. Phil Murphy took office in January 2018. Including this latest increase, funding for infant care has increased $18.8 million and $10.3 million for toddlers since then. This represents a 40% increase for infant care. In all, the state has increased funding for infant/toddler care by $30 million, which is 36% of the total increase for child care subsidies. And this stems from our first victory in 2018 when the state made two significant policy changes – decoupling the infant rate from the toddler rate and establishing a tiered reimbursement for quality.
The increased funding was made even sweeter when our state’s largest daily newspaper announced it under the headline: 200 Babies Protested at the Statehouse and They Got Results and included a photo from our Strolling Thunder event last May.
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