NJ launches improvement grant program for child care facilities

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — On Oct. 26, New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy announced that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will begin accepting applications for grants from the $54.5 million New Jersey Child Care Facilities Improvement Program on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Phase 1 of the program will provide nearly $15 million in grants of up to $200,000 to licensed child care centers in New Jersey to cover the costs of facility improvements.

“Every New Jersey family deserves reliable, safe, high-quality child care, a critical part of Nurture NJ and our work to make New Jersey a leader in child health. This program will help to ensure facilities all over the state provide our children — and most especially our children in underserved communities — with high-quality early childhood environments that have lifelong impacts,” Murphy said. “The NJ Child Care Facilities Improvement Program will provide the capital for child care facilities to make essential improvements that will elevate their ability to care for this and future generations.”

Murphy joined NJEDA leadership and other government and elected officials outside ABC Daycare Academy in Bloomfield for the announcement.

“I am thrilled that New Jersey is using federal funds I secured in the American Rescue Plan to implement innovative programs like the Child Care Facilities Improvement Grant,” U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill said. “At the local, state and federal level, we are working together to make childcare more accessible and affordable for New Jersey families because we understand its importance to a thriving economy and workforce. I want to thank first lady Tammy Murphy, NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan, Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz and ABC Daycare Academy owner Anna Hareza for their work on this important issue.”

As part of New Jersey’s whole-of-government approach to supporting the child care sector, the Legislature passed and Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Child Care Revitalization Fund into law, appropriating $100 million in American Rescue Plan coronavirus state and local fiscal recovery funds to support the sector, including $54.5 million for NJEDA to provide facility improvement grants and technical assistance to child care providers. Ruiz was a co-sponsor of the Child Care Revitalization Fund.

“School facilities have a profound impact on both teacher and student outcomes. When we invest in our children by making their learning environments healthy, safe and flexible to adapt to complex student needs, the rewards far exceed the cost of the initial investment,” Ruiz said. “By lessening the financial burden on child care providers, these funds will facilitate the expansion of classroom space, which increases student headcounts, as well as allow for the purchasing of other critical infrastructure needs, such as replacing windows and/or flooring or even playground equipment. Every dollar invested offers a $4-$9 return in individual and community benefits. This program, along with other initiatives moving through the Legislature, represents a commitment to improving early childhood education in ways that will work to reduce the achievement gap and greatly benefit future generations.”

“Under Gov. Phil Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is making significant investments to bolster the child care sector, which is crucial to our economy and the ability of New Jersey parents to return to work and have the peace of mind of knowing their children are well cared for,” Sullivan said. “These grants will help child care centers that are the backbone of our economy to emerge better positioned to care for our children and families.”

A list of eligible uses and details on the program can be found at njeda.com/child-care-improvement-program/.

“ABC Academy Daycare is always looking for ways to enhance the quality of early childhood education and always puts our children first when making budget decisions, therefore prioritizing the improvement projects while keeping costs down is often a challenge,” Hareza said. “Gov. and first lady Murphy recognize the crucial role New Jersey’s child care centers play in setting our children up for success and the grant that will significantly help childcare centers achieve a higher standard of care.”

Photos Courtesy of Claudia Velasquez