Murphy: New $250M child-care program to help working families

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Gov. Phil Murphy announces a new state child-care initiative in Metuchen on Friday. Courtesy of the Governor's Office.

METUCHEN – With the school year starting in September amid the ongoing pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday announced a $250 million COVID Child Care Initiative to provide new support for working families, as well as for child-care providers.

The initiative is part of the state’s fiscal year 2021 spending plan for the $2.39 billion federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“Now more than ever, working families need access to child care to balance the many demands they are facing during the ongoing pandemic,” said Gov. Murphy. 

“Child-care providers play a critical role for children and their parents who are going to back work in-person. It is vitally important that we support providers and families with restart grants, supplemental funding and tuition scholarships,” added state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. 

According to a news release, the state Department of Human Services will now provide child-care subsidies during the school day for families with children age 5 to 13 years old through the end of 2020. 

Applications will open in early September. Information about applying is available at childcarenj.gov.

Participation in the state Child Care Subsidy Program is available to families with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level who meet program criteria. For example, a family of three with income up to $43,440 is eligible to enroll in the program. This funding will be used at licensed child care centers or registered child-care providers, and child-care providers will be paid the state’s subsidy rate for school-age children based on the hours of care needed.

The Department of Human Services also will create a new $150 million program to provide child-care support to families who are not eligible for the state Child Care Subsidy Program but who are in need of child care due to their child’s school’s remote-learning schedule. This assistance will be available through the end of 2020 for families with annual incomes below $75,000 through an application process.

To support child-care centers that make it a priority to serve children receiving the state child care subsidy, the Department of Human Services will provide supplemental payments of $75 per subsidy-eligible child, per month.  

These funds will be available to nearly 6,000 child care providers in New Jersey with increased COVID-related costs, such as purchasing PPE and other supplies, cleaning and sanitation.

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