NJ Human Services Continues Support & Increases Child Care Grants for Child Care Providers

November 162022

(TRENTON) – Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced the continuation of retention and hiring bonuses and increases to grants aimed at both stabilizing child care programs in New Jersey and supporting child care staff.

The $1,000 Hiring and Retention Bonus Grant has relaunched and providers can apply now through December 4, 2022. The $1,000 bonuses, available to both new child care employees as well as those who already received a bonus from the previous phase, are being provided by the Murphy administration to recruit new child care workers and retain staff. The state has provided more than $37 million in bonuses to over 37,000 child care workers so far.

In addition, child care centers that were awarded NJ American Rescue Plan (ARP) Stabilization Grants earlier this year to help with operational expenses will be eligible to receive up to $75,000 in additional grant funding as long as they continue to meet program criteria. That is on top of the remaining balance of the total award they were already approved.  Family child care providers will receive an additional $3,000 on top of their remaining balance.

“We know these grants have been a major support for the child care industry as they continue to recover from the pandemic and we are glad to continue to provide and increase this funding,” said Commissioner Adelman. “Under the leadership of Governor Murphy, we continue to work hard to support child care providers that are so important to working families and our economy.”

“Stabilizing the child care industry and its workforce continues to be a top priority for the Murphy Administration,” said Deputy Commissioner for Social Services Elisa Neira. “Retention and Hiring Grants will be open until the end of the month; I urge providers to take advantage of this resource. Technical assistance and support is available for providers needing assistance to apply.”

The NJ ARP Stabilization Grant, which is closed for new applications, is being paid in two installments. The second installment will be available approximately 12 months after the first payment. For most child care providers this means early in 2023.

To receive this final payment including the additional funds, the program must have remained in good standing, must be open and operating and attest to meeting the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) health and safety requirements.

With the additional funds announced today, total grants for child care centers range from $45,000 to $195,000 and the new total award for family child care providers is $7,000.

Approximately $150 million in ARP Stabilization Grants have already been issued to 3,193 child care centers and 784 family child care providers.

Adelman announced the additional grant funding for providers during a visit to Sandy Lane Nursery School in Belleville. Adelman was joined by Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, who has championed making child care more accessible and affordable for New Jersey families.

 “Access to affordable, high quality child care improves outcomes and pays significant dividends into our communities. As we face worker shortages across industries, stabilizing the child care industry and investing in worker retention will allow more parents to return to the workforce at a time when we need it most,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “These grants will benefit parents and child care providers throughout the state. This multi-pronged approach will mitigate the obstacles currently faced and will maximize the positive impact on our economy and New Jersey’s families.”

Sandy Lane is a center-based provider that offers child care services to children enrolled in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program. Rated as a Grow NJ Kids quality provider, this center has also received funding from the local school district to serve and expand pre-k education as part of the Governor’s Pre-k expansion program, and is a good example of New Jersey’s mixed delivery early childhood education. Sandy Lane has a four-star Grow NJ Kids rating and is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); both important tools for raising the quality of early childhood education.

“As early childhood educators, we at Sandy Lane place emphasis on the whole child. Our school is a place where children learn to expand their world and grow physically, socially and intellectually in a quality care atmosphere. The stabilization grants and hiring and retention bonuses we have received have made a significant impact to our ability to continue to serve families and their children. The last few years have been especially difficult for many providers because of the pandemic. We are grateful for the state’s continued support and for recognizing the importance of child care providers to working families and the economy,” said Sandy Lane Nursery School Administrator Elaine Perna.

The NJ ARP Stabilization Grants can be used for expenses such as wages and benefits, insurance, rent, mortgage, utilities, cleaning and sanitizing, professional development related to health and safety, mental health services, and other operational expenses to remain open and operating. The additional grant funds must be used for operational expenses with 50% specifically directed towards personnel costs, such as salary, bonus and benefits to help retain and compensate staff.

“We’ve heard from so many child care providers about their struggle to hire and keep staff,” said Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson, who oversees Human Services’ Division of Family Development. “Between the Hiring and Retention Bonus Grant and the additional funds available to support a variety of personnel expenses and costs, such as salary, wages, payroll and benefits, we hope these funds will ease some of their staffing issues. You can visit ChildCareNJ.gov for more information about available grants.”

The Department will continue paying providers based on enrollment, rather than attendance, through the end of this fiscal year. The decision to pay based on enrollment was made in early 2020 as part of an overall strategy to stabilize the child care industry in New Jersey when attendance patterns changed as a result of the pandemic.

 The grants and bonuses build upon Murphy Administration efforts to support families served in the state’s child care assistance program and child care providers.

Last month, First Lady Tammy Murphy announced that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority would begin accepting applications for grants from the $54.5 million New Jersey Child Care Facilities Improvement Program on November 15, 2022.  Building on the Governor Murphy’s comprehensive strategy to support the state’s vital child care sector, Phase 1 of the program will provide nearly $15 million in grants of up to $200,000 to licensed child care centers in New Jersey to cover the costs of facility improvements.