During the last few days, our state began to take initial steps in reopening our economy – an important and positive process that will return us to a new normal. But our economy cannot reopen effectively and fairly without a clear and corresponding reopening plan for child care. As the Governor has recognized, child care is part of the backbone of a broader economy. Child care is a substantial $2 billion industry in itself. And almost 40 percent of all workers having at least one child at home. Each incremental reopening needs corresponding support and guidance for child care to ensure an adequate supply of safe care for parents returning to work.
Over the last two months, Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) and the New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children (NJAEYC) have spoken to hundreds of center-based and family child care providers through emails, surveys, telephone and Zoom calls regarding the impact that COVID-19 has had on them and the children they care for and educate. Some programs have remained open to provide emergency care for the children of essential service employees; most are closed and are struggling to survive until they are able to reopen. Many fear that they will not be able to reopen fully or may have to close for good. The financial impact on them has been devastating.
From these many conversations, providers have given us invaluable information about what they will need to reopen. Based on this information, ACNJ and NJAEYC urge the state to take following action to ensure that programs can
provide safe child care for children, parents can return to work and the economy can reopen.