NJ Department Of Human Services Announces $28M Grant To Expand Infant And Toddler Care

By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern

SOUTH JERSEY – Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman recently announced the Thriving by Three Infant and Toddler Child Care Grant, eligible to child care centers and Head Start/Early Head Start programs, which seeks to expand infant and toddler care capacity to support quality early childhood development. The grant will be available to registered family care providers later in 2023. 

The Thriving by Three Infant and Toddler Care Grant is part of Governor Phil Murphy’s ongoing efforts to improve the childcare industry and help the families that require its services in the state. 

“Access to affordable child care is a necessity for many parents,” said Governor Murphy. “Investing in our child care providers means investing in working families and local communities throughout our state. I encourage providers to apply for these Thriving by Three grants to help expand their capacity to offer high-quality child care for families across New Jersey.”

The $28 million grant aims to support developing and creating infant and toddler slots in childcare settings and provide technical assistance to eligible childcare providers to expand child care spaces.

The grant allocates $20 million to the Human Services’ Division of Family Development and $8 million to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in collaboration with the Department of Children and Families’ Office of Licensing. 

“We know that access to childcare plays a critical role in supporting economic development and infant care is key to mothers and fathers returning to the workforce,” said Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who was the prime sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “These investments will not only benefit our parents and our child care providers but our entire state. Access to affordable, high quality child care improves outcomes and pays dividends. Every dollar invested offers a $4-$9 return in individual and community benefits.”

Eligible programs must: 

  1. Comply with state and federal health and safety requirements for childcare centers
  2. Comply with current child care licensing standards for infant and toddler care
  3. Be in good standing
  4. Complete an online application
  5. Participate or apply to the state’s child care quality rating and improvement system, Grow NJ Kids, within six months of grant approval

However, after each year, programs must renew. Programs will receive an initial minimum grant of $3,000 per new infant or toddler child care slot created, but $1,000 from each place must be directed for teacher-related expenses. Once granted funding, providers must commit to creating at least four slots in their programs. 

Once approved programs are chosen, the grant period lasts three years. After one year has elapsed since the grant was given to approved programs, programs are required to demonstrate engagement with Grow NJ Kids rated progress and have all of their newly created slots filled. 

If programs are approved for the Third Year Grant Award of funding, they are given an additional minimum grant of $1,200 per infant or toddler slot filled, $400 of which must be directed for teacher-related expenses. 

For additional resources about the grant program and how programs intend to use the funding, visit https://www.childcarenj.gov/Providers/Grants/ThrivingbyThree

“All families should have access to high-quality, affordable child care. It shouldn’t be a luxury,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), who was the prime sponsor of the bill in the Assembly. “We are taking another big step toward that goal with Thriving by Three. This program will help more of New Jersey’s youngest students begin their formal education on firm footing. Our state will reap the benefits for years to come.” 

Governor Murphy intends to further invest in the industry to make childcare more affordable to families with the FY2024 budget plan. 

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