Move Will Save 32,000 Working Families $23 Million Per Year; Represents Latest Murphy Administration Investment in Affordable Child Care for New Jersey Families

(TRENTON) – On Maternal Health Awareness Day, First Lady Tammy Murphy and New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson today announced the Murphy Administration will reduce co-payments by 50 percent for parents who receive state assistance paying for child care, saving New Jersey families $23 million per year.

The savings will benefit 32,000 families and is the latest move by the Murphy Administration to make child care more affordable. Through the Department of Human Services, over the last two years, the Murphy Administration has already announced nearly $100 million in new resources to support quality and affordable child care for working families in New Jersey by improving reimbursement rates for child care providers, expanding incentives for child care centers to enhance their quality, and improving the curricula of child care centers.

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“In order to improve the health outcomes for New Jersey’s mothers and babies, we need to address all of the factors that contribute to the disparities in care,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “High-quality, affordable child care is a critical resource to New Jersey’s working families. By reducing co-payments 50 percent, we are alleviating a major financial burden for our families and moving one step closer to improving the health and wellbeing of our mothers and babies.”

“Quality, affordable child care is a must for working families,” Commissioner Johnson said. “The Murphy Administration is making child care a priority because quality, affordable child care is critical to child development and to families’ economic development.  It’s vital that we give families striving to get on the best possible financial footing the peace of mind that comes from quality child care.  With this change, we are helping working families by making child care more affordable and at the same time supporting a stronger workforce and economy.”

As part of the State’s child care subsidy program, some parents who receive assistance paying for child care are assessed a monthly co-payment. Co-pays are assessed on a sliding-scale based on income and family size.

Under the Department’s new co-pay policy, a family of three earning $26,000 a year with one child in full-time child care will save $504 per year, while a family of three earning $45,000 annually with one child in full-time care would save $1,140 per year. 

The reduced co-payments will take effect in March.  Human Services will make direct payments to child care providers to account for the reduced co-pays and ensure child care providers funding remains constant and does not change as a result of this policy change.

“The Murphy Administration is dedicated to affordable child care for New Jersey families so they can get the assistance they need while they work or attend school or training,” Deputy Human Services Commissioner Elisa Neira said. “We are helping families save money every month and promoting a stronger economy throughout our state. We are building stronger families.”

The Murphy Administration’s nearly $100 million investment in child care over the last two years includes substantial subsidy increases plus additional investments and grant opportunities for direct improvements in facilities and in training materials and curricula. Together, these new resources have helped to make child care more accessible for families. They also are helping child care centers implement the new minimum wage law, and the latest phase of the child care rate increases becoming effective in January to help support the 2020 minimum wage increase.

Over the last two years under the Murphy Administration, infant care rates have increased by nearly 40 percent– from about $724 a month to $994 as of this month.  For parents who select an infant care provider with a three-star quality rating from Human Services’ Grow NJ Kids quality improvement program, that rate jumps even further, reaching $1,093. 

Under the Murphy Administration, toddler care rates have increased from $717 to $830 per month and pre-school rates from $585 to $690 per month, with higher rates for higher quality rated programs.

New Jersey’s child care subsidy program helps families with lower-to-moderate incomes who are working, in training or in school afford child care. About 5,000 child care providers in New Jersey participate in the program.  

Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey’s Quality Rating Improvement System, is New Jersey’s program to raise the quality of child care and early learning across the state.  Grow NJ Kids gives child care and early learning programs resources to assess and improve their programs, while providing parents with information that allows them to evaluate the quality of programs and make the best choices for their child.

 “We know that children who are in quality early learning programs when they are young are better prepared with reading and math skills,” said Natasha Johnson, Assistant Commissioner of Human Services’ Division of Family Development. “These new investments in quality and affordable child care will benefit working families throughout New Jersey.”