I started the week by joining a group of parents and advocates to talk about a topic that affects the economic security for millions of New Jerseyans: the skyrocketing cost of childcare.
As everyone knows, the word that could most accurately describe the state of childcare in America today is the word “crisis.” Between soaring costs, lack of availability, staff shortages and more, an industry that was barely staying afloat before is now collapsing before our eyes.
The solution is that we must treat early childhood education like a public good – something that is the birthright of every child regardless of their ZIP code. Like any safety net, for it to work it has to be composed of several components working together, from universal pre-K to subsidies for providers, to support for family childcare centers.
I’m proud that we were able to secure nearly $700 million in the American Rescue Plan for childcare in our state and that Governor Murphy is putting these resources to good use through grants, direct aid, and recruitment and retention bonuses for childcare staff. That said, there is much more that needs to be done in Washington to help families like yours.
It is why I support passing legislation that would ensure that any family making under $213,000 in New Jersey will pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare, a key part of President Biden’s agenda, which would save a typical family in New Jersey as much as $27,000 on expenses. It simply cannot be overstated how much this transformational investment would mean for parents across our state – but particularly for those in Black and Brown communities who disproportionately struggle to make ends meet when it comes to childcare.
We can start to fix this collapsing system by making critical investments in our nation’s childcare infrastructure. We can cap costs once and for all so that the only decision a parent has to make is whether to send their kids to the high-quality provider down the street or the one up the road. And, for moms like Lauren and Janell and Yolma, who joined me this week, we can remove the barriers that keep them from starting a business or going back to school.
I’m a firm believer that there is no better investment – no better way to unlock our nation’s potential and strengthen our economic recovery – than to support the programs that in turn support our families and their kids.
If you agree with me, head over to Twitter and tell me why affordable child care is so important to you.