Report: Affordable Child Care Hard to Find in NJ
Thursday, June 15, 2023
Many New Jersey families are having a very hard time paying for child care, according to the new 2023 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The new report showed center-based child care for a toddler costs about $12,700 a year, which is 34% of the average median income for a single mother.
Mary Coogan, president and CEO of the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New Jersey, said to make matters worse, supply is low because of staffing issues, linked to the fact the average child care worker in the state makes just $14.28 an hour.
"Child care centers are reporting to us that they are struggling to maintain staff, especially if they want to provide care for infants and toddlers, which will cost them more because of staff-ratio requirements," Coogan explained. "They cannot expand because they can't find staff."
The data also showed the Garden State ranks seventh for overall child well-being and 29th for economic well-being. Some 14% of New Jersey children live in poverty, with great disparities for children of color.
Advocates want public and private leaders to provide startup capital for new home-based child care centers. And they would like Congress to better fund programs to help parents who are in school themselves.
Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said Congress was on the right track when it expanded the Child Tax Credit during the pandemic and started sending families extra checks.
"It was the largest one-time reduction in child poverty in a single year that we've seen," Boissiere recounted. "Making permanent the expansion of the Child Tax Credit could have a significant impact on the number of children and families who are living in poverty."
On the positive side, New Jersey ranks second in the country for education and fifth for child health, since only 4% of kids in the state lack health insurance.
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