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Updated: Mar 23, 2023

NJ Human Services Launches Grant Application to Help Child Care Providers Increase Child Care Services Available to Working Families

Grant Program Seeks to Expand Infant and Toddler Care Capacity to Support Quality Early Childhood Development

March 22, 2023

(TRENTON) – Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced licensed child care centers and Head Start/Early Head Start programs can now apply online for the Thriving by Three Infant and Toddler Child Care Grant to help providers expand their capacity for infants and toddlers, and increase high-quality child care services available to families.

The Thriving by Three grant program, created by a law signed by Governor Murphy in 2022, will help support the development and creation of infant and toddler slots in child care settings, and provide technical assistance to eligible child care providers for the expansion of child care spaces.

Eligible programs can apply for the Thriving by Three grants through the New Jersey Child Care Information System.

“Access to affordable child care is a necessity for many parents,” said Governor Phil 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.”

“These new state investments continue our goal to make quality and affordable child care a reality to New Jersey’s working families,” said Commissioner Adelman. “These grants are another step by our Administration to strengthen our early childhood education system and provide more access to high-quality child care services to working families. Through these grants, providers can grow their infant and toddler capacity and receive critical support and training to improve their overall quality, receive a rating through Grow NJ Kids and be eligible for a higher reimbursement rate.”

“All families should have access to high-quality, affordable child care. It shouldn’t be a luxury. 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,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), who was the prime sponsor of the bill in the Assembly.

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. These investments will not only benefit our parents and our child care providers but our entire state,” said Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who was the prime sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “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.”

The $28 million grant program includes $20 million allocated to 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.

“Congratulations to Commissioner Adelman and her team on the launch of Thriving by Three and thanks for their partnership and collaboration on the NJEDA’s Child Care Facilities Improvement Grant Program,” said NJEDA’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Child care is a pillar of our economic infrastructure, and each of these programs addresses a critical priority of Governor Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy’s holistic approach to preparing children and their families for long-term success.”

"By investing in making high-quality early childhood education programs and child care placements available to more families, we're investing in the building blocks to give children a strong start to their education, and we're investing in the ability of families to thrive," said NJ DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer.

The grant is open to licensed child care centers and Head Start/Early Head Start programs, and will be available to registered family child care providers later this year.

To qualify, programs must:

· Comply with state and federal health and safety requirements for child care centers;

· Comply with current child care licensing standards for infant and toddler child care, including, but not limited to, class size, child-to-staff ratios and health and safety standards;

· Be in good standing (no enforcement action or fraud and/or funding misrepresentation investigation or misuse of funds);

· Complete an online application, in which providers must identify a capacity need to develop slots or expand infant and toddler slots; and

· Participate or apply to participate in the state’s child care quality rating and improvement system, Grow NJ Kids, within six months of grant approval. A Grow NJ Kids program receives support, technical assistance, scholarships and other incentives to improve their program. Once rated, they receive a higher rate of state payment for children participating in the Child Care Assistance Program.

Eligible providers will receive an initial minimum grant of $3,000 per new infant or toddler child care slot created; $1,000 from each slot must be directed for teacher-related expenses (i.e., bonus or incentive). Providers must commit to creating a minimum of four slots. If not already enrolled in, or rated by, Grow NJ Kids, providers must enroll within six months of receiving the award.

The grant period is for three years and grants must be renewed each year.

Approximately 12 months after the initial grant, programs must demonstrate they are actively engaged in Grow NJ Kids and have all newly created slots filled. Programs that meet the required benchmarks for the Year 2 Grant Award will receive an additional minimum grant of $1,200 per infant or toddler slot, $400 of which must be directed for teacher-related expenses.

To receive the Year 3 Grant Award, programs must be actively participating in the Grow NJ Kids rating process and have all newly created slots filled. Approximately 24 months after the initial award, programs that meet these benchmarks will receive another minimum grant of $1,200 per infant or toddler slot, $400 of which must be used for teacher-related expenses.

“We have resources available online that explain the grant program and how providers can use these funds. I encourage providers who may have questions to review the information available and apply,” said Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson, who directs Human Services’ Division of Family Development, which oversees the child care assistance program.

The Thriving by Three grant program continues ongoing efforts by the Murphy Administration to support the child care industry and the families that rely on their services.

The Murphy Administration has provided more than a billion dollars in pandemic funding since March of 2020 to support the child care industry and help families pay for child care.

The Governor’s FY2024 budget plan further invests in the industry to make child care more affordable to families.

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