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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association supported a bill today that would require new preschool programs or seat expansions to use private providers for a majority of their preschool slots.

Bill S-2477 (Ruiz, D-29; Cruz-Perez, D-5) was released by the Senate Education Committee this afternoon.

“This is a very important bill for the childcare industry as it would help ensure a mixed delivery system that can thrive in New Jersey,” said NJBIA Vice President of Government Affairs Alexis Bailey.

“Due to the low staffing ratios necessary to care for infants and toddlers, childcare centers rely on caring for 3- and 4-year-olds to offset the high staffing costs associated with tending to the youngest children. Without these children in their care, providers will be much more challenged to remain financially solvent.”

Under the provisions of the bill, a school district that receives preschool education aid would ensure that no less than 50% of preschool pupil placements are provided at private licensed childcare providers. The remaining preschool public placements would be provided in district programs and Head Start programs.

The legislation would take effect in the first full school year following the date of enactment.

“As the state continues to enhance preschool programs, it’s critical that private providers are substantially included in that process, so they are able to sustain,” Bailey said.

S-2477 is part of a comprehensive childcare bill package, unveiled in April by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz, aimed at addressing the needs of those who make up New Jersey’s childcare infrastructure, including providers, employees and parents.

NJBIA has served as a key stakeholder for all the bills to help bring much-needed improvement to childcare in the state.

“This is an opportunity to provide critical assistance to both working families, childcare providers and employers who continue to face fiscal challenges and workforce shortages,” Bailey added.