METUCHEN – With the school year starting in New Jersey amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans Friday to dedicate $250 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide support to children and their families, as well as for thousands of child care providers with resources. These plans are highlighted in the Governor's FY2021 revised Budget Proposal as part of the state's spending plan for the $2.39 billion in federal dollars earmarked for coronavirus relief.

“Now more than ever, working families need access to child care to balance the many demands they are facing during the ongoing pandemic,” Murphy said. “With these investments, we are ensuring that high quality child care is accessible and affordable for families across the state."

“The funding announced is much-needed as we move toward further re-opening of our state. $250 million is a huge investment and it offers the support that our state’s hard-working families need as we all wait for the pandemic to subside and guard against a resurgence in the fall,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. "Childcare providers play a critical role for children and their parents who are going back to work in-person. This is the right thing to do, and I thank the Governor for spearheading this initiative.”  

Sign Up for Scotch Plains/Fanwood Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

“We have long known that quality child care is essential to child development and economic development. Today’s announcement makes clear that, in the face of a pandemic, child care is also essential to helping schools reopen,” said Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson. “The Governor and the Department of Human Services are taking these actions to address some of the incredible burden working families are facing as work-from-home and remote learning occur at the same time. Families need relief, and we hope today’s actions offer some hope and opportunity for parents to get the support they need.”   

The Governor’s Child Care Initiative includes the following components:

Supporting Children and Families

1. The Department of Human Services will now provide state child care subsidies for child care during the school day for school-age children (children age 5 to 13 years old) through the end of calendar year 2020. Participation in the state Child Care Subsidy Program is available to children in families with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level who meet program criteria. For example, a family of three with income up to $43,440 is eligible to enroll in the program. Today, about 21,000 school-age children receive a state subsidy to support the cost of before- and after-school child care. Under the COVID Child Care Initiative, enrolled school-age children will now be eligible for state subsidy funding for child care services throughout the school day. This funding will be used at licensed child care centers or registered family child care providers, who will be paid the state's subsidy rate for school-age children.

2. The Department of Human Services also will create a new $150 million program to provide child care support to families who are not eligible for the state Child Care Subsidy Program but who are in need of either full or part-time child care due to their child’s school’s remote learning schedule. This assistance will be available through the end of calendar year 2020 for families with children, 5 to 13 years old, with annual incomes below $75,000. Funding for recipients of this program will be provided directly to the family’s selected licensed child care center or registered family child care, and providers will be paid the state's subsidy rate for school-age children.

Applications will open in early September. When the process opens, families may submit applications and the department will make awards to participants who meet the eligibility criteria until funding is exhausted. Selected recipients will be eligible for either full- or part-time support based on their families’ needs.

Supporting Child Care Re-Opening:

1. To support the reopening and sustainability of child care centers that make it a priority to serve children receiving the state child care subsidy, the Department of Human Services will provide supplemental payments of $75 per subsidy-eligible child, per month, including infants, toddlers, and school-age children to providers through the end of the calendar year.  

2. The Department of Human Services will make funding available to all licensed child care centers and all registered family child providers in New Jersey that are open or will open by October 1st to manage added operational costs due to new COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. These funds will be available to nearly 6,000 child care providers in New Jersey with increased COVID-related costs, such as purchasing PPE and other supplies and materials, cleaning and sanitation, and other operational needs related to COVID-19 that are eligible expenses for the Coronavirus Relief Fund.  Funds will be available as follows:

Provider Type/Capacity Amount
Family Child Care Providers $2,500
Centers with licensed capacity of 0-60 children $8,000
Centers with licensed capacity of 61-120 children $11,000
Centers with licensed capacity of 121-200 children $15,500
Centers with licensed capacity of 201+ children $17,000

All funds will be subject to federal statutes and guidance governing the use of the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Payments must be for necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency that were not accounted for in the FY 2020 budget, and can only cover costs incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2020. The Administration remains committed to helping New Jersey’s families navigate the health and economic challenges resulting from the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Latest COVID-19 Numbers

Gov. Murphy reported more positive COVID-19 news for the state. He announced that the positivity rate is 1.52%, which means that more than 98% of tests were negative. Further, the rate of transmission is now down to 0.77.

"The figure was 5.3 in March... That's a good thing," Murphy said. 

The governor announced that New Jersey has 372 new positive cases, pushing the state's cumulative total to 190,971. He also reported nine new confirmed COVID-19 deaths for a total of 14,150 lives lost. Currently, 436 people are being treated in New Jersey's hospitals. Of those patients, 83 are in ICU, and 30 are on ventilators, according to the governor's figures.

"We know that we are not done fighting this virus. I signed an executive order extending the public health emergency," Murphy said.

The executive order extending the public health emergency must be renewed every 30 days. He said the state "would responsibly open parts of our economy." 

"We are almost there," Murphy said "With positivity rates of 2% or lower and rates of transmission that have come down meaningfully below one, and they are sustained (not just one day). We are getting very close to being able to take that step."

"The economic crisis from this pandemic is like never before," added Murphy, who did not offer a date of the return of indoor dining, as had been rumored over the past 24 hours. "Over 1.5 million NJ workers have filed claims for unemployment. $14.4 billion has gone to them, a combination of state and federal funds."

Murphy said 96% of people who filed for unemployment have received funds.