History of Child Care Resource and Referral in New Jersey
Child care resource & referral (CCR&R) agencies began in Passaic, Bergen, Camden, Morris, Somerset and Union counties to assist families in finding quality child care that was accessible and affordable.
CCR&R agencies grew and took on additional responsibilities, such as Family Child Care Networks and sponsorship of the Child Care Food Program.
Some CCR&Rs added local county subsidy programs to their responsibilities.
The Child Care Licensing Act of 1983 created a statutory body called the New Jersey Child Care Advisory Council. The Council was charged with providing advice and recommendations on child care needs, priorities, programs, and policies to the commissioner of the Department of Human Services, the director of the Division of Youth and Family Services, and the director of the Division on Women.
Three regional CCR&R agencies were funded in the northern, central, and southern regions of the state. Each regional office was responsible for coordinating the resource and referral services for its region and for working closely with the local CCR&Rs to identify and meet the child care needs of the communities. These regional agencies also served as the local CCR&R for each county in the region and were responsible for providing services in those counties where no CCR&R existed.
The local CCR&Rs continued to provide resource and referral services in their county or counties, responded to information and referral calls, handled requests for technical assistance and training information, identified child care service needs, developed child care resources, and promoted public awareness of child care issues.
A Clearinghouse was housed within the Division of Youth and Family Services to coordinate statewide activities of the CCR&R system and provide technical assistance to the regional CCR&Rs, to analyze and interpret data collected by the regional and local R&Rs, and to serve as a link to the CCR&R systems throughout the USA.
CCR&Rs worked with the NJ Department of Human Services to develop regulations for family child care. New Jersey implemented a voluntary registration program for family child care providers to care for up to five children in the home.
The number of local CCR&Rs continued to grow, eventually resulting in a CCR&R in every county.
The Office of Child Care Development was established to serve as an advisor to the commissioner of the Dept. of Human Services (DHS) on child care issues and to oversee major child care initiatives of DHS such as the Clearinghouse and child care resource and referral in New Jersey.
CCR&Rs were extremely influential in welfare reform (the REACH program) in New Jersey. Lead Agencies (CCR&Rs) were selected in each county to provide child care referrals and counseling services to REACH participants.
Commissioner Alan Gibbs established an Ad Hoc Child Care Resource & Referral Working Group to review the current status of the CCR&R system, including the identification of the funding sources and services performed by the existing agencies. The working group was to review the monitoring and evaluation procedures used by the State. This group was made up of employers, parents, local CCR&Rs, regional R&Rs and staff from the State Department of Human Services. The overall goal of this group was to develop a comprehensive set of CCR&R operating guidelines.
CCR&Rs became the administrators for the NJ Cares for Kids voucher program.
North Jersey 4Cs proposed to the State that each county receive $25,000 to operate their local CCR&R. Under the regional model some local R&Rs received as little as $2,000 to operate the CCR&R their county.
New Jersey stopped its regional service structure; CCR&R was redesigned as a local service provider system.
As part of the redesign of CCR&R in New Jersey, a single unified agency was selected in each county to perform all services, including:
Family Child Care Registration
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
NJ Cares for Kids Voucher Program (NJCK)
CCR&Rs were instrumental in the development of the NJ Professional Development Center for Early Care and Education. The NJDHS awarded a planning grant for the New Jersey Professional Development Center to the New Jersey Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NJACCRRA), with Community Coordinated Child Care of Union County acting as the lead agency.
NJDHS awarded a five-year grant to Kean University, partnering with NJACCRRA to implement the plan: NJ Sows the Seeds for Growth: A 5-year Plan for an Early Care and Educational Professional Development System.
Child Care Health Consultation (CCHC) began with a registered nurse in each CCR&R. Over the next ten years, CCHC enabled the CCR&Rs to develop and provide specialized training on issues such as prevention of infectious diseases in child care settings, medication administration, management of asthma in child care, recognizing developmental delays in children in child care, identifying stress in young children, and emergency preparedness. The CCHCs also developed a Universal Child Health Record used by child care centers throughout New Jersey.
CCR&Rs conducted their first statewide child care market rate study.
CCR&Rs worked with the NJ Professional Development Center for Early Care and Education (now Professional Impact NJ) to provide CDA coursework for child care providers and to establish a statewide professional development registry.
Child Care Connection (Mercer County) became New Jersey's first CCR&R to receive Quality Assurance Validation (QAV) through Child Care Aware, part of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies.
A state report on Family Child Care in New Jersey was completed by CCR&Rs in collaboration with NJACCRRA.
A report through Rutgers, Education Preschool Teachers: Mapping the Teacher Preparation and Professional Development System in New Jersey by Carrie Lobman, Sharon Ryan, Jill McLaughlin, and Debra Ackerman identified CCR&Rs as the predominant provider of professional development opportunities in the state.
CCR&Rs identified "Quality Indicators" for an infant/toddler program that addressed caregiver/child interaction, the environment, and health and safety.
CCR&Rs collected data for the New Jersey Child Care Economic Impact Council's report, Benefits for All: The Economic Impact of the New Jersey Child Care Industry.
The NJ Department of Children and Families implemented the Strengthening Families Initiative, a family support network through the CCR&Rs.
CCR&Rs conducted a survey on the impact of new Department of Environmental Protection regulations.
CCR&Rs supported community-based Pre-K expansion, partnering with ACNJ and NJAEYC to hold Pre-K forums statewide.
CCR&Rs assisted with the development of New Jersey's Infant/Toddler Credential.
CCR&Rs started a co-sponsorship with the NJ Family Child Care Providers' Association on a biennial statewide family child care conference.
CCR&Rs supported a pilot project for a New Jersey Quality Rating & Improvement System.
CCR&Rs conducted a statewide cost analysis for mandatory family child care registration.
CCR&Rs advocated on behalf of Bill A4073, mandatory family child care registration.
Through an RFP process, CCR&Rs were awarded a quality infant/toddler TA and training grant, the NJ First Steps Infant/Toddler Initiative.
CCR&Rs collaborated with the NJ Department of Education, the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), and NJACCRRA on data collection for the NJ Preschool Expansion Assessment Research Study.
CCR&Rs contract for child care health consultation ended.
CCR&Rs collected data in collaboration with NJACCRRA for the market rate study entitled The High Price of Child Care: A Study Profiling the Cost of Care Within Licensed Centers in New Jersey.
CCR&Rs worked with the Department of Human Services/Division of Family Development to develop a statewide data collection system, the Consolidated Assistance Support System (CASS).
CCR&Rs collaborated with the NJ Department of Education, NIEER, and NJACCRRA on data collection for the 2010 study, Variations in Wages & Benefits Paid to New Jersey's Center-Based Child Care Staff Based on Classroom Role, Ages Served, and Center Characteristics.