NJ Child Care Issues & CCANJ Recommendations

Advocates > NJ Child Care Issues & CCANJ Recommendations

CCANJ's advocacy work on early care and education issues builds on local efforts coordinated through county child care resource and referral agencies to involve parents, providers, and child advocates in ensuring that New Jersey's families have access to high-quality, safe, and affordable, child care. CCANJ is advocating for solutions to critical issues impacting New Jersey's early care and education system.

Click here for Sample Letters of Support regarding current advocacy issues.
Click here to review recent CCANJ Testimony.
Click here for CCANJ issue briefs on these topics

ISSUES & RECOMMENDATIONS

ISSUE #1: New Jersey is one of a handful of states that does not require criminal background checks and fingerprinting of its family child care providers. Most parents make an incorrect assumption that providers are carefully screened before becoming a State-registered family child care provider. CCANJ believes the time has come for all children to have this basic protection.

RECOMMENDATION: CCANJ recommends that all adult child care providers who care for one or more unrelated children on a regular basis, as well as their household residents and substitutes, should undergo a comprehensive background check, including fingerprinting and a check of the sex offender registries.
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ISSUE #2: New Jersey's child care subsidy reimbursement rate does not allow equal access to the full range of options within the current child care market. Maximum reimbursement rates are significantly below the market rate. This limits parental choice by forcing subsidized families to either pay the difference between the center rate and voucher payment or place their child in an under-funded child care arrangement with insufficient resources to ensure quality. Families who qualify for child care subsidy assistance have limited options and too often choose care based on cost rather than quality. Another related concern is that child care programs that do accept the state maximum payment rate are not able to attract and retain qualified teaching staff, better equip classrooms, and upgrade curriculum materials - all indicators of quality care that have been well documented by research.

RECOMMENDATION: The maximum reimbursement rates for center based, family child care, and approved home providers must be raised to reflect the 75th percentile of rates local providers charge families without a subsidy to ensure eligible children have equal access to quality child care.
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ISSUE #3: Child care licensing violation reports are difficult for parents to access.

RECOMMENDATION: We support the posting of all child care center violation reports on the Internet, so that parents can make informed child care choices for their children.
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ISSUE #4: Although infants and toddlers are our most vulnerable population in child care, there is limited specialized training for New Jersey's infant and toddler caregivers. At least 50 percent of New Jersey's mothers with children under the age of three are employed outside of the home and an estimated 12 percent of infants and toddlers attend a regulated child care program. Research tells us that the first three years of life are the formative years; almost 90% percent of a child's core brain structure is formed during this critical time. Child care center staff and family child care providers caring for infants and toddlers can have a tremendous impact on a child's future success. Despite this fact, caregivers of infants and toddlers typically do not receive adequate training in early child development and/or methods of teaching which can optimize learning for infants and toddlers.

RECOMMENDATION: While it would be most beneficial to have educators trained and certified in infant development for every young classroom, it is clear that we are several years from that possibility. Until that time, CCANJ is advocating for the expansion of the NJ First Steps Initiative to support funding an infant/toddler specialist in each county's child care resource and referral agency to provide mentoring and training for center based and family child care providers caring for infants and toddlers in local communities. Click here to learn more about current services provided by NJ First Steps.
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ISSUE #5: The annual Cost of Living Adjustment for state-contracted organizations does not reflect the increased costs of conducting business and providing services in New Jersey. Training and retaining a qualified child care workforce is critical. There must be an appropriate annual adjustment tied in to economic indicators which allows state-contracted agencies to continue to provide quality programs for New Jersey residents.

RECOMMENDATION: Provide agencies contracting with the Department a fair COLA that will support them in maintaining their level and quality of contracted services.
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ISSUE #6: Funding for Child Care Health Consultants has been eliminated from the budget, thereby halting health care consultation services to New Jersey's early care and education system.

In March of 2010, funding for child care health consultation through the NJ Department of Human Service's child care quality programs fund was eliminated from the budget. Child care health consultant coordinators were responsible for conducting health and safety audits of child care programs and providing current and timely technical assistance and resources to the directors on how to respond to health-related outbreaks.

Children in child care are considered the most vulnerable in an educational and care setting because of their younger age, poor personal hygiene practices, inability to effectively verbalize their health concerns and needs, and the typically lower educational background of the providers caring for them (compared to public school teachers.) An estimated 15% of all children have a chronic health condition (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2001). The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that child care providers make reasonable accommodations for children with special needs, such as those requiring asthma treatments and Epi-Pen injections. Despite these facts, funding for the ONE child care health consultant assigned to each county was eliminated. Without the training and support provided by the child care health consultation program, the health and safety of many of these children will be in jeopardy. (see Publications - Letters of Support Section for more information on the elimination of child care health consultants.

RECOMMENDATION: For the protection of all children in child care, CCANJ calls for the restoration of funding to support Child Care Health Consultant nurses to serve the diverse, and growing medical needs within New Jersey's early care and education system.
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ISSUE: #7: Preschool Expansion: Investment in a high-quality preschool program for three- and four-year olds is critical; specifically in a community-based setting supported by well-trained, adequately credentialed professionals. Preschool is a public investment that pays off. A growing body of research shows that high-quality preschool improves a child's learning and development. That improvement leads to long-lasting benefits for the child and the public. Research shows that children who attend high-quality preschool are less likely to be placed in special education, to drop out of school or to have to repeat grades. Teenagers who attended strong preschool programs are less likely to become pregnant or to get arrested; as adults, they have higher levels of employment. Additionally, the public saves money through reduced crime, a more productive workforce and a lower rate of employment. (To read more about this issue visit the Publications page for reports and position briefs).

RECOMMENDATION: CCANJ calls for continued expansion of New Jersey's preschool services so that ALL three- and four-year old children have access to early care education; specifically in a community-based setting supported by well-trained, credentialed professionals working in a high-quality, adequately-funded setting.
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