Nicholson-funded Reports Examine Barriers to High-Quality Infant and Toddler Care in NJ

Two new Nicholson-funded reports by Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) identify critical issues and challenges related to developing, providing, and financing high-quality infant and toddler child care in New Jersey. Together, the reports offer a sound, data-driven case for increasing public and private investment in infant and toddler care.

The first report, Quality Costs How Much? Estimating the Cost of Quality Child Care, uses actual budget data collected from child care providers throughout the state to construct various cost scenarios to determine how much it costs to provide high-quality care. Key components of high-quality care include low child/staff ratios, qualified teachers, professional staff development, sufficient supplies and equipment, and adequate facilities. The authors find that, with the state’s reimbursement rate flat for the past nine years, many providers are struggling just to meet basic expenses, let alone make the investments needed to improve quality.

The second report, Where Are The Babies? Center-Based Infant-Toddler Child Care in Short Supply, finds that fewer than a third of infants and toddlers in New Jersey have access to licensed center-based child care. The report found that availability varies widely across the state. The state’s wealthier counties such as Bergen, Morris, and Somerset reported the greatest numbers of available slots to serve infants and toddlers in licensed centers, with Somerset County able to serve 45 percent of the county’s very young children needing child care. By contrast, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May had the least available space, with Ocean County able to serve only 14 percent of the 16,100 infants and toddlers likely to need care.

To accompany the report, ACNJ created an interactive map of New Jersey’s childcare facilities licensed to provide infant and toddler care.