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Tuesday, April 25, 2017
For Immediate Release
Despite New Jersey’s implementation of a child care rating system that helps working parents find the best care for their young children, a new study by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) shows that many child care centers in low-income communities would face enormous challenges meeting and sustaining these higher state standards that define quality, unless the state is able to provide the necessary resources.
Funded by The Nicholson Foundation, the report Quality Costs How Much? Estimating the Cost of Quality Child Care in New Jersey uses various operational cost scenarios and budget data collected from child care providers throughout the state. The authors determined that under current funding levels, the price tag of implementing Grow NJ Kids (GNJK), the state’s quality rating and improvement system, is far out of reach for centers that heavily rely on child care subsidies.
“Without an increase in the state child care reimbursement rate for the past nine years, many providers are already operating on shoe-string budgets,” said Cecilia Zalkind, ACNJ President and CEO. “For centers that provide subsidized child care, the reimbursements are often too low to meet even their basic expenses – staff, rent and utilities, let alone make the recommended quality initiatives.” The reimbursement is $32.12 per day for an infant and $26.48 for a preschooler.
In 2013, New Jersey was one of six states to receive a $44 million, four-year, Race to the Top federal grant intended to improve child care quality. With these funds, the state expects to enroll nearly a quarter - or 1,800 - of all sites serving infants and young children into GNJK by the end of 2017 when the grant concludes. As of December 2016, 1,111 of the targeted sites were enrolled. By 2022, the state expects all child care programs that receive public funding to be part of Grow NJ Kids.
“However, there is no long-term funding to help enroll more programs, or help existing Grow NJ Kids participants maintain their quality standards after the grant ends,” said Diane Dellanno, policy analyst and principal author of the report.
As providers move up the quality scale, the expenses of operating a high- quality program increase. But as the subsidy rate stays flat, providers must bear the costs – leading to decreased revenues for their businesses. Based on the cost-estimation study, a typical child care center serving a mix of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and receiving child care subsidies for a quarter of the children, would lose 8 percent of its revenue if it reached a 3-star rating, 11 percent for a 4-star rating, and 21 percent for a 5-star rating under GNJK.
“This report provides crucial recommendations for changing how New Jersey pays child care providers in order to support high-quality care and education for our youngest children – particularly those from low income families,” said Arturo Brito, Executive Director of The Nicholson Foundation. “This is the time when brain development is most critical.”
Key components of high-quality care include low child/staff ratios, qualified teachers, professional staff development, supplies and equipment, adequate facilities and forging strong family partnerships.
Major Findings from the New Jersey Child Care Cost of Quality Study
For State Agencies:
For Legislators and Policymakers:
For Child Care Programs:
Advocates for Children of New Jersey is the trusted, independent voice putting children’s needs first for more than 35 years. Our work results in better laws and policies, more effective funding and stronger services for children and families. And it means that more children are given the chance to grow up safe, healthy, and educated. For more information, visit www.acnj.org. Follow ACNJ on Twitter @acnjforkids and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/acnjforkids.