Governor Conditionally Vetoes Child Care Enrollment Bill; State Advocacy Group Responds

Today, Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ), released the following statement on Governor Phil Murphy’s conditional veto of A4746/S3947, legislation to make permanent the policy of paying child care subsidy based on child enrollment, rather than attendance.

“Despite strong support from child care providers, parents and lawmakers, Governor Murphy conditionally vetoed A4746/S3947, which would require the state to make child care subsidy payments based on child enrollment, rather than attendance. Advocates for Children of New Jersey is very disappointed with the decision. For child care providers, enrollment-based payment provides a critical source of reliable funding to help stabilize programs accepting children of eligible low-income families. During COVID, this temporary measure proved to be the most important policy action to sustain and stabilize New Jersey’s child care system. The public health crisis has only magnified the inherent instability of the attendance payment structure and making this policy permanent would have resolved this longstanding problem.

“We recognize that New Jersey has made significant investments in our state’s child care system, but the increased costs of doing business, such as cleaning and staffing costs to ensure the safety of children and employees, and a growing staffing crisis, caused by programs’ inability to pay competitive wages, keeps this vulnerable industry in jeopardy.

“The veto message does recommend extending this payment policy for an additional six months, which continues this temporary support to child care providers, but a long-term payment solution is needed. The conditional veto requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to conduct a one-year study to compare the costs of payments based on attendance versus enrollment and make recommendations for a more stable approach. ACNJ urges DHS to complete the study as soon as possible and include potential alternatives to ensure the long-term stability of the child care system.

“Child care is essential, not only for working families, but to the recovery and growth of New Jersey’s economy. This bill took an important step forward in providing stability to this critical system, treating child care as the public good it is.

“ACNJ commends the sponsors of this legislation, Senator Vitale, Assemblywoman Mosquera and Assemblywoman Lopez, for their leadership in supporting child care and the children and families it cares for and educates.”

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Advocates for Children of New Jersey is a statewide, non-profit child research and action organization, committed to giving every child the chance to grow up safe, healthy and educated.

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