During a busy and eventful board meeting last week, which NJBIZ has reported several items from, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) board approved an additional $50 million for grants for Phase 1 of its Child Care Facilities Improvement Program.
The allocation brings the program’s total funding to nearly $75 million.
It comes at a critical time in the child care space, with a recent Rutgers report detailing how the sector has not rebounded from the pandemic and faces many ongoing challenges.
The NJEDA says the improvement program has seen an overwhelming amount of demand since launching in November, receiving more than 450 applications from child care centers that serve over 36,000 children and employ nearly 9,000 people.
Phase 1 was initially funded with $20 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CSLFRF), along with an additional $4.45 million in state funds. The new tranche of money approved by the NJEDA board this month also comes via ARP CSLFRF funds from the Fiscal Year 2022 and 2023 budgets.
The NJEDA has more than $10 million in funding for future program phases, which will include a grant program for family child care homes.
“The fact that this additional funding enhances a program specifically designed to help child care providers elevate their ability to care for New Jersey’s children both now and in the future is a win-win for our state,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy in a press release.
The NJEDA has approved 31 applications through Phase 1 of the program with more approvals expected in the coming weeks and months.
“Reliable and quality child care services are vital to New Jersey’s economic infrastructure, however, too often child care providers forgo making necessary investments in facility upgrades due to razor-thin profit margins,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.
He noted the New Jersey Departments of Children and Families (NJDCF) and Human Services (NJDHS) for their partnership to bolster the child care sector, thanking the state congressional delegation and Legislature for their commitment to providing NJEDA resources for the program, as well as crediting the leadership of Gov. Phil Murphy and the first lady.
“New Jersey is making significant investments into this critically important sector, ensuring that every child and working family has access to reliable, safe, and affordable child care,” said Sullivan. “Through the funding announced, the NJEDA will fund critically important improvement projects at child care facilities across our state, helping centers keep their lights on, doors open, and staff employed, all while increasing access to high-quality learning environments for their students.”
“The NJEDA is focused on connecting child care providers with financial means to make necessary upgrades to their facilities,” said NJEDA Executive Vice President of Economic Security Tara Colton. “A child’s zip code should never dictate their access to high-quality child care.”