A $700 million funding boost from the federal government will be spent on child care costs to help families in New Jersey find access to better childminders or child care centers to benefit their children.
In a statement, Gov. Phil Murphy said that this key investment ensures that child care won't become an obstacle to parents and their kids. Instead, it will allow moms and dads to get high-quality care if they are eligible for the benefit. It will also enable facilities to remain up and running despite these challenging times brought on by the pandemic.
Under this program, those qualified to receive the child care boost could rely on the state money for full-time or part-time care. Murphy believes that this investment will be a "game-changer" for parents in New Jersey.
Child Care Workers Bonuses
New Jersey will also provide a $1,000 bonus for child care workers beginning winter 2021. Grants may also be given to qualified and licensed child care operators so that they will have the money to retain their workforce.
Providers may receive $20,000 to $80,000 for the first round of this grant, depending on how many children are enrolled in their facility. In-home providers, on the other hand, are qualified to get up to $2,000.
These bonuses could also be used to pay rent and other expenses to keep the centers up and running or pay for extra staff and new recruits. The grant will also cover summer camp providers so they can operate for 2022 and 2023.
New Jersey's child care assistance programs started in September 2021 and will be extended to December 2023. In the pandemic in 2020, the state invested $400 million to help parents manage the unexpected cost of remote learning and assist providers that experienced fluctuating attendance because of the lockdowns.
Around $100 million was also released in March 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis, to reimburse worker wages and help those in the co-payments scheme.
Vaccine Mandate for Child Care Workers
Murphy issued a vaccine mandate for all child care workers effective November 1. They must be fully vaccinated by this date and comply with the state's face mask mandate as well. Anyone who comes to child care centers, including visitors, will need to mask up indoors.
Earlier, the governor ordered the preschool and elementary school workers to be fully vaccinated by October 18. Those who don't want to get the vaccine have to undergo a weekly COVID-19 test.
New Jersey has set up various pop-up facilities in Newark to ensure that workers have access to vaccination sites. So far, there has been no pushback from child care workers since most are willing to comply for the sake of the children's safety. However, some facilities may expect staff shortages as the vaccine-resistant will likely look for other jobs than remain in an industry with a vaccine mandate, according to Lynette Galante of the New Jersey Child Care Association.
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