PARSIPPANY – Tammy Murphy called it the “silver lining” of the pandemic.
The state’s First Lady joined Mikie Sherrill and local officials today to highlight a $1.1 million federal grant to the United Way of Northern New Jersey to expand child care options for working parents.
By doing so, “We really are supporting the future of our children,” Sherrill said at an event at the Parsippany Child Day Care Center, which will serve as the “anchor” for a program that aims to keep and expand current child care options.
The congresswoman and other speakers said the lack of dependable child care can keep mothers out of the workforce, a problem exacerbated when many schools were remote-only during the pandemic. The immediate next step would be to recruit up to 10 registered home-based child care providers.
Services will be offered to all New Jersey families beginning with those living paycheck to paycheck, or ALICE for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
Jamie Barberio, the township’s Republican mayor, was on hand, as were a number of town council members, giving the day a bipartisan touch. Barberio, whose second stint as mayor began in January, thanked Sherrill for securing the federal money.
In “real life,” Morris County Republicans are hoping to oust Sherrill from office this fall, but that’s a story for another time.
Child care, nonetheless, is a political issue.
Under a federal pandemic relief bill signed last year, the child tax credit was expanded to provide eligible families annually with an additional $3,600 for each child under six and $3,000 for those up to 17. Payments were monthly.
Democrats say the added relief for working families helped cut child poverty by about 40 percent. But the expanded program – and payments – were eliminated earlier this year when Democrats were unable to pass the “Build Back Better” bill.
Sherrill said today that the program was extremely popular and that she hopes Congress will take another look at it. But she acknowledged there’s no guarantee that will happen this year.
On a more upbeat note, Sherrill spent a few minutes talking with about a dozen preschool youngsters in the center’s program. They talked about their favorite colors and how the “M” sound in “Mikie’s” name is pronounced. When the First Lady arrived, Sherrill and Murphy read to a captive audience.