In an effort to address child care deserts in communities throughout New Jersey, a bill was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Yvonne Lopez to incentivize private investments aimed at increasing child care facilities. The Assembly Women and Children Committee advanced the bill on Thursday.
A “child care desert” is a community or geographic area where the demand for quality child care services surpasses the availability of such services. Due in part to closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of New Jersey municipalities are classified as child care deserts.
Under the bill (A-4747) the Commissioner of Human Services—in coordination with the Commissioner of Community Affairs, the Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the Director of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury and the Commissioner of Children and Families—would develop and implement a financial incentives program to encourage private investments in child care facilities located in child care deserts. These incentives could include tax credits, tax exemptions, loan guarantees or assistance with recruiting, hiring or training employees.
Upon the measure’s committee approval, Assembly sponsors Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester), Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Lopez (D-Middlesex) issued the following joint statement:
“Our child care system is in a fragile state. Many providers in New Jersey were forced to close their doors permanently when attendance and enrollment dropped during the pandemic, creating child care deserts in communities throughout the State. This shifted the burden of daytime child care onto parents who, in some cases, have had to reduce their work hours or leave the workforce because of the lack of services available.
“We have to create new funding opportunities to give our child care providers and working parents the support they need. Encouraging investments into child care facilities with the incentive program created by this bill can help bridge the gap in child care and make a difference in impacted communities.”