TRENTON — If you get help with paying for infant and child care in New Jersey, it’s about to get better.
New Jersey officials and first lady Tammy Murphy announced Tuesday $38 million will go toward child care programs and support services, including subsidy payments for lower-income families who need help paying for care while they work, are in school or attending training programs.
The subsidy rates have remained relatively flat for the past decade, but money that helps parents pay for infant care will see a significant bump. The payment rate will go up 25 percent, or from $724 per month to $904 per month.
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Toddler rates will increase from $717 per month to $761 per month, and preschool rates will go up 10 percent, from $585 to $643 per month.
State Department of Human Services officials said payment rates will increase further for programs rated by Grow NJ Kids, a rating improvement system for child care programs. Infant care rates will increase to at least $1,012 per month for Grow NJ Kids three-star rated programs.
“As Advocates for Children of New Jersey research has found, access to quality care for babies is in short supply,” Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, said in a statement. “This additional funding will help to expand child care options for working families and provide the strong educational environments that babies need to develop and thrive.”
The state will set aside $1.2 million to create incentives for child care centers to expand their subsidy program spots for infants. The state will give centers $100 per infant per month up to a year for newly created spots.
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About 5,000 child care providers in New Jersey participate in the state’s child care subsidy program, which serves about 100,000 children annually, said state officials. New Jersey’s program is funded through the federal Child Care Developmental Fund, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program and state money.
The rate increases will take effect in January.
About $6.8 million will go toward grants to help care centers acquire classroom learning materials to enhance the quality of the child care experience, state officials said, citing research that children who are in quality child care and learning programs when they are young are better prepared for kindergarten with skills in reading, math and vocabulary.