NEW JERSEY – The Assembly on Thursday passed a bill that extends subsidies to child care centers based on enrollment, not attendance.
The legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, addresses the challenges the government lockdowns created for those centers, often small businesses owned and operated by women of color.
“There has been a monumental shift in the child care industry. They really are the center for business owners and families alike, and our laws need to reflect that reality,” Dunn (R-Morris) said.
A May 2023 report by the Rutgers University Center for Women and Work found that the child care sector is still reeling from government lockdowns imposed in 2020. Nineteen of the state’s 21 counties experienced child care workforce declines between 2020 and 2021. Trends show that despite the consequences of lockdowns, the state’s child care supply has for years not met the demand, which is only expected to grow.
“We know a third of the state’s nearly one million businesses permanently shuttered because of lockdowns. Child care centers are not just another business, they are a necessity for women trying to make ends meet and know their children are safely cared for,” Dunn said. “Extending these subsidies to ensure the doors stay open benefits everyone.”
The bill (A4177) will extend enrollment-based subsidy payments to licensed child care centers – defined as a center that provides care to six or more children ages 13 and younger who attend less than 24 hours a day – through June 30, 2025.
“The lockdowns made an already precarious situation worse, and disproportionately affected minorities,” Dunn said. “While we continue to pick up the pieces post-Covid, we need to give these business owners and families peace of mind that these centers are there for them. I’m pleased the bill was passed in the Assembly.”