The NJ First Steps Infant Toddler Initiative, funded by the NJ Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development assists educators of very young children in providing the very best care for infants and toddlers. The New Jersey First Steps Infant/Toddler Initiative has two predominant goals:
Why is NJ First Steps important?
In New Jersey, at least 50 percent of 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. Recent studies such as the Raising the Bar in Infant Care: Helping Teachers Improve Their Qualifications to Work with Infants and Toddlers released by the NJ Infant and Toddler Child Care Initiative of the NJ DHS, Office of Early Care and Education led to a concern with the qualifications of the infant toddler workforce. The "Raising the Bar" study revealed that the state's infant and toddler child care providers are not prepared to provide high-quality experiences for very young children, our most vulnerable and impressionable population in care. The study found that New Jersey's infant/toddler providers have inadequate education and limited experience. They also have lower qualifications than their peers working with older children. Forty percent of family child care providers and 50 percent of center staff caring for these children have no formal education beyond high school.
What services does the NJ First Steps Infant Toddler Initiative offer?
NJ First Steps is for early care providers interested in establishing, expanding or strengthening services to infants and toddlers. These services include:
How do child care providers access the support of NJ First Steps? [ Get Answer ]
You can benefit from First Steps. The following agencies are serving as the lead for your community:
These three lead agencies are working in collaboration with CCANJ, the NJ Division of Family Development, Zero to Three, and a statewide advisory committee to create a statewide system of infant/toddler specialists who will be responsible for providing comprehensive services to aid or enhance the quality of infant/toddler care in licensed centers and registered family child care homes.
Click here for a NJ First Steps Brochure.