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Gov. Phil Murphy announced this week plans to expand or initiate new pre-K programs in 19 school districts across 11 counties as part of a mission to bring high-quality pre-K to all 3- and 4-year-olds across the state. 

The $17 million to fund more than 1,100 additional full-day, pre-K programs builds upon the 140 districts that have already received funding.  

While supporting the investment in pre-K, NJBIA Director of Government Affairs Alexis Bailey cautioned that the delivery of these programs must include private and public childcare options. 

“The additional and continuing investment in early childcare education announced by the governor is indeed a positive for New Jersey,” Bailey said. “However, it’s critical that those funds also flow down to private childcare centers. 

“Without a mixed delivery system, some private childcare centers that care for kids as young as 8 weeks old may be forced to close. Having a wide variety of public and private childcare options will allow families to choose the care that best fits their situation and avoids an imbalance among care for young children.”  

Bailey also noted that nearly 1.8 million women dropped out of the workforce entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, women’s labor participation is currently at its lowest point in 30 years. 

“Ensuring funding for private childcare facilities also protects small businesses, many of which are owned and operated by women, empowers working families and increases workforce participation, particularly among women,” she said.