Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a law appropriating $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to support childcare providers and the childcare workforce with grants for facility improvements, business assistance, workforce development and more.
The NJBIA-supported bill (S-3990/A-5863), sponsored by Senator Shirley Turner (D-15) and Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (D-38), provides critical assistance for childcare businesses that have been struggling since the COVID-19 pandemic from steep financial losses and an ongoing staffing crisis that must be addressed so that working parents can find safe places for their children and return to their jobs.
“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the inequities created by the lack of access to affordable childcare that many working families face,” said Governor Murphy, who signed the bill into law on Thursday night. “This funding, made possible by the Biden administration, will assist our childcare providers and childcare workforce that have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and beyond in our state.”
Town hall meetings organized by the NJBIA and the New Jersey Business Coalition during the past year have focused attention on the crisis in the childcare industry, where hundreds of facilities have been forced to close over the past year due to decreased enrollment, state COVID-19 mandates affecting staffing and class size, and a precipitous drop in revenue.
“Licensed childcare centers have been devastated by the pandemic and those that did make it though the past year are really struggling financially,” said NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas. “This law is important to the entire business community, not just the childcare industry, because without access to safe childcare, parents cannot return to work.”
The new law appropriates $100 million to the state Department of Community Affairs, which will make $15.5 million available to the Department of Children and Families (DCF); $54.5 million available to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA); and $30 million to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for programs to assist childcare businesses and workers.
Primary sponsors of the law, in addition to Turner and Swain, were Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, and Assembly members Andrew Zwicker, Vincent Mazzeo, Joanne Downey, Roy Freiman, Gabriela Mosquera, Shanique Speight, and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.