NEWTON, NJ – Access to high quality preschool and early childhood education not only sets the groundwork for success in a child’s life, it also has a positive impact on a business’s bottom line. When employees know their young children are in a safe, capable and engaging environment, they can focus on their work, which reduces costs associated with absenteeism, distractions and retraining of employees.
That was the core message delivered by United Way of Northern New Jersey at the Sussex County Chamber Business to Business Breakfast on October 13 at Lafayette House. United Way, which sponsored the event as it enters the height of its campaign season, discussed its work serving the 12,000 ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households in Sussex County who are struggling to make ends meet.
The cost of quality child care is often the most expensive line item in the budget for ALICE and poverty-level families, which is why United Way is focused on ensuring these families have access to quality childhood education they can afford, United Way Community Relations Director Monica Lemperle told the audience of 250 community business leaders.
“Think for a moment about the implications for your business if your employees are at work worrying regularly about whether or not their toddler or their preschooler is in a safe, capable and engaging environment,” Lemperle said. “The costs of absenteeism, distractions and retraining of employees to businesses can be enormous.”
United Way is committed to ensuring ALICE families have access to quality early childhood education by partnering with the state on a statewide quality ratings system for all child care centers, by investing in teacher education and training to reduce high turnover rates and give educators a chance to advance, and by funding scholarships so ALICE families can access quality care and education.
“When we prepare the children in our communities well, we are all the beneficiaries,” Lemperle noted. “We are producing citizens who earn more and are better able to put their wages back into the businesses in the local community.”
In addition to Lemperle, Director of Enrichment Center at West Side Anita Plantamura spoke of the challenges the Hopatcong child care center has overcome with the help of United Way.
“We owe much of our current success to our relationship with United Way of Northern New Jersey, who have helped us to attain crucial equipment, streamline our administrative practices to increase net revenue, and achieve long-term stability and growth as the only center in Hopatcong offering early childhood education and child care to area families,” said Plantamura. “We are so thankful to United Way for their help and partnership that has allowed us not only to overcome obstacles, but to thrive.”
The center, which has been serving Hopatcong families for more than 40 years and has 110 children currently enrolled, has grown from a preschool to a full-day child care center that offers before and after care for children attending Hopatcong’s public schools. When its location was in jeopardy, United Way put together a coalition of partners to come up with solutions to ensure the center’s presence in the community would continue for many years to come.
In order to continue carrying out its work, United Way needs widespread support from the community, Lemperle said.
“Your investment in United Way is critical — we cannot do this work without you,” Lemperle said. “Your investment is one that strengthens the community for ALICE and every one of us.”
For more information about United Way of Northern New Jersey visit www.UnitedWayNNJ.org.
About United Way of Northern New Jersey
United Way of Northern New Jersey is a nonprofit organization working to improve people’s lives and strengthen communities by focusing on Education, Income, and Health. These are the building blocks for a good life – a quality education that leads to a stable job; the tools needed to achieve financial stability; and good health. We lead caring communities to create long-lasting changes that transform people’s lives. Together, united, we can inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow. United Way of Northern New Jersey serves Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties as well as portions of suburban Essex County, including the Caldwells, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Livingston, Millburn-Short Hills, Montclair, Roseland, and Verona. Give. Advocate. Volunteer. LIVE UNITED. To learn more, call 973.993.1160 or visit www.UnitedWayNNJ.org.