To prevent the parents and legal guardians of children in childcare centers from being blindsided by unanticipated increases in tuition fees, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Angela McKnight and Raj Mukherji was approved Thursday by a full Assembly vote of 74-0-0.
The bill (A-5044) would require childcare centers to prepare and notify every parent or legal guardian of children attending the center 45 days in advance of any tuition rate changes.
“For many parents, childcare expenses consume a sizeable portion of their budget,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “So when these expenses increase, especially with short notice, it can pose a serious hardship on a family’s finances.”
The bill is the result of an outcry from parents who say a Jersey City child development center raised their children’s tuition by up to 50 percent. The parents were given one month’s notice, and the unexpected increase forced some to make other arrangements for their child.
“To make such a substantial increase without giving parents sufficient time to make adjustments to their budgets is wrong and insensitive,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “Even the smallest increase can wreak havoc on a parent’s budget.”
As mandated in the bill, the notice would need to be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by receipted first class mail, and addressed to the parent or legal guardian at the last known address in the center’s records. It also could be delivered in person to the parent or legal guardian by a staff member from the center. In addition, the center would be required to post the notice on its website or other electronic means and display the notice in a prominent location within the center.
“Parents work hard to juggle their finances as well as childcare logistics to ensure that their children are cared for properly,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “When they are thrown a curveball such as a hefty, unanticipated tuition increase without adequate notice or a chance to make alternative arrangements, it really is disruptive to their lives and their children’s lives. This bill looks to prevent such occurrences.”
The bill was introduced in February and now awaits further consideration in the Senate.