RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces Childcare Affordability Plan

Bipartisan Action to Help Plan to Address Skyrocketing Childcare Costs. Claws Back Federal Dollars for Affordable Childcare in North Jersey.

Jan 09, 2024
Press

RIDGEWOOD, NJ — Today, January 9, 2024, at the Ridgewood YMCA childcare center, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced his new, three-part Childcare Affordability Plan to help parents go to work and ensure their children have the care they deserve and need to grow and learn safely, especially during their most critical developmental years. It not only includes support for the costs of childcare, but it also helps childcare centers recruit and pay for providers, which is a huge issue right now. It also ensures we do everything we can for the hardest-pressed families with additional support for Head Start.

Gottheimer also highlighted a nearly $200,000 federal Childcare Stabilization Grant clawed back for the Ridgewood YMCA. This grant was critical to keeping employees on the payroll, upgrading classrooms, and purchasing supplies, insurance, and more.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Skyrocketing Childcare Costs: 

  • Jersey was ranked the second most expensive state in the country for childcare last year, costing $442.19 per week on average. The average annual price of center-based infant care is more than $17,000 — more than 50% of the salary of someone earning minimum wage. Across the nation, from 2019 to just this past October alone, the average cost of childcare is up 32 percent. 
  • The American Rescue Plan, which temporarily expanded the Child Tax Credit for 2021, helped more than 61 million children, lifting nearly four million out of poverty — cutting child poverty in half nationally, including a 48 percent reduction in New Jersey.
  • Just this past September, far-right extremists let another vital investment lapse — Childcare Stabilization Grants. As a direct consequence, more than 3 million children are projected to lose access to childcare nationwide and 70,000 childcare programs are likely to close. In New Jersey, more than 1,300 childcare programs are expected to close, and more than 100,000 kids are set to lose childcare.
  • Jersey parents are expected to lose $378.5 million dollars in earnings as a result of being forced to cut work hours or leave the workforce and take care of their children.

Gottheimer Childcare Affordability Plan: 

  1. Today, along with New York Congressman Mike Lawler, Gottheimer sent a letterto House and Senate tax negotiators to include an expanded Child Tax Credit in ongoing tax package negotiations for Jersey parents and families across the nation. Congress must take decisive action to tackle skyrocketing childcare costs.
  1. Gottheimer’s plan calls for fully restoring and implementing the Childcare Stabilization Grants, which expired last year. 

o    Without these grants, more than 1,000 childcare centers in New Jersey alone may be forced to shut their doors. 

o    Gottheimer is co-leading the Child Care Stabilization Act, which would inject $300 million into childcare in New Jersey, helping 4,400 providers afford to operate, from supplies to staff costs to training, and serve 350,000 Jersey children.

  1. Gottheimer’s plan also focuses on helping the hardest-pressed families. 

o    Gottheimer has fought to expand investments in Head Start, a vital program that helps our most vulnerable children with everything from early learning and development to childcare to health and wellness. 

o    Gottheimer called on Congressional leaders to provide robust investment this year for the Administration for Children and Families, which administers Head Start. Since Gottheimer was first elected to Congress, annual funding dedicated to Head Start and Early Head Start, key programs helping our children most in need, has increased by more than $2.7 billion.

“You can see why childcare costs are a huge obstacle to working, and why it has a real impact on our state’s economy and our families’ pocketbooks. Jersey parents are expected to lose more than $378 million dollars in earnings as a result of being forced to cut work hours or leave the workforce altogether to care for their children. That’s unacceptable and we need to be focused on making life more affordable,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “It’s why today I’m proudly announcing my Childcare Affordability Plan to help parents go to work and ensure their children have the care they deserve and need to grow and learn safely, during their most critical developmental years.”

Gottheimer Accomplishments in Addressing Child Care Costs:

  • In 2020, as Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, working with the Senate, Gottheimer helped write, negotiate, and pass the CARES II Act, which provided critical support to childcare providers to keep their doors open and reduce childcare costs for families. 
  • Then, in 2021, as families across the nation were struggling during the pandemic, Gottheimer helped lift millions of children out of poverty by passing a historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan. The expansion temporarily increased the credit to a maximum of $3,600 for children under age 6 and made it fully refundable. This puts money right back in parents’ pockets to allow them to take care of their children. It helped more than a million children in New Jersey.
  • Gottheimer has expanded investments in Head Start, and why — as the President’s budget calls for — we must do even more. It’s a vital program that helps our most vulnerable children with everything from early learning and development to childcare to health and wellness. For counties in the Fifth District, we clawed back $77 million for Head Start in 2021 alone. 
  • Gottheimer sponsored and fought to pass the Child Care for Working Families Act. This comprehensive legislation ensures families can afford the childcare they need, expands access to more high-quality childcare options, works to help stabilize childcare costs, and helps ensure childcare workers taking care of our nation’s kids are paid livable wages. 

Gottheimer was joined by Ridgewood Mayor Paul Vagianos, Ridgewood YMCA President and CEO Ramon Hache, Director of Childcare Ridgewood YMCA Kara Aspley, and Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) representative Diane Dellanno.

Below: Gottheimer at the Ridgewood YMCA childcare center.

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning and happy New Year.

I’m here today in Ridgewood at the YMCA to announce new, bipartisan federal action to ensure Jersey’s parents can access the quality and affordable childcare they need and deserve. It’s key to our children’s success, parents ability to work, and to the success of our economy. 

We’re also here today to highlight federal dollars clawed back from Washington to this very YMCA, so they can continue to deliver top-notch, affordable childcare to moms and dads. And I want to thank the incredible team here for all they do. Yet, as great as the Ridgewood Y is, there just aren’t enough places with well-trained people like it around our state that provide quality, affordable childcare. It’s simply too expensive and hard to find.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, childcare can cost more than $17,000 a year right here in Bergen County. Across the nation, from 2019 to just this past October alone, the average cost of childcare is up 32 percent. The average weekly cost for Jersey families is $442 and the annual price of center-based infant care is an astounding $17,460 annually. Last year, New Jersey was ranked the second most expensive state in the country for childcare. 

For someone earning minimum wage in New Jersey, childcare can cost more than fifty percent of their annual salary. Imagine spending half your paycheck on childcare — and that’s before factoring in the cost to commute, taxes, and other expenses like rent, food, and diapers. In many cases, for some people, when you factor in childcare to all of their other work costs like commuting, it’s actually more expensive to work. That’s unacceptable. 

You can see why childcare costs are a huge obstacle to working, and why it has a real impact on our state’s economy. Jersey parents are expected to lose more than $378 million dollars in earnings as a result of being forced to cut work hours or leave the workforce altogether to care for their children. 

There are plenty of well-qualified people who would work if they had affordable, quality childcare, but it just doesn’t add up. That’s why the Child Tax Credit and other solutions we’re talking about today are so essential. From quality childcare to helping pay for diapers, the Child Tax Credit has helped millions of parents go to work and afford the overwhelming costs of raising a child in Jersey. Since 1997, the Child Tax Credit has helped millions of families pay for and get a credit on their taxes for the many expenses that come with raising a child.

The other dimension to this problem is the huge drop in the number of childcare providers. During the pandemic, from 2020 to 2021, the number of childcare centers in New Jersey fell by more than 250. Part of that is cost-related, and part of it is the difficulty in finding the right trained, caring people to work at these childcare centers. That’s why the Child Stabilization Grants have been so important. 

It’s also why today I’m proudly announcing my Childcare Affordability Plan to help parents go to work and ensure their children have the care they deserve and need to grow and learn safely, during their most critical developmental years. It not only includes support for the costs of childcare, but it also helps childcare centers recruit and pay for providers, which, as I mentioned, is a huge issue right now. And it also ensures we do everything we can for the hardest-pressed families in Head Start.

First, along with New York Congressman Mike Lawler, I sent a letter to House and Senate tax negotiators to include an expanded Child Tax Credit in ongoing tax package negotiations for Jersey parents and families across the nation. Congress must take decisive action to tackle skyrocketing childcare costs, and we look forward to working with the Tax-Writing Committees to ensure that an agreement is reached that benefits American families and children.

By providing access to affordable, quality childcare, more parents can afford to look out for their kids, go to work, and support the economy. In short, we need to make work pay. Otherwise, unfortunately, as I said earlier, the costs of working are actually higher than what too many people make. And that makes no sense. It’s why I’ve also always fought for and successfully supported expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and incredible programs like Head Start. 

Just to give you a little more history on where we are with the Child Tax Credit. In 2017, the Child Tax credit was temporarily expanded from $1,000 per child to $2,000 per child. In 2020, as Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, working with the Senate, I also helped write, negotiate, and pass the CARES II Act, which provided critical support to childcare providers to keep their doors open and reduce childcare costs for families. 

Then, in 2021, as families across the nation were struggling during the pandemic, Democrats took decisive action to lift millions of children out of poverty by passing a historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit. I was honored to help negotiate and pass that legislation, called the American Rescue Plan in Congress, which increased the credit to a maximum of $3,600 for children under age 6 and made it fully refundable. This puts money right back in parents’ pockets to allow them to take care of their children. It helped more than a million children in New Jersey.

The Child Tax Credit expansion helped more than 61 million children and lifted nearly four million out of poverty — cutting child poverty in half nationally, including a 48 percent reduction in New Jersey.

But here’s the problem we are facing now — and why yesterday, I called Jason Smith, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and one of the lead tax negotiators. This expansion of the Child Tax Credit expired at the end of 2021, making it much harder for parents to afford raising a child. That includes everything from food to diapers to childcare. 

Sadly, since then, the poverty rate for children has skyrocketed, more than doubling the rate from a historic low of 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022 — wiping out all the gains we made as a nation. These numbers make me sick. No child in our nation should live in poverty, wondering where their next meal will come from. No parent should have to worry if they can afford to work. 

But, the bad news doesn’t end there. Just this past September, far-right extremists let another vital investment lapse — Childcare Stabilization Grants. The Ridgewood YMCA received one of them. This grant program was critical to keeping childcare providers and centers open across the country. It helped keep employees on the payroll, ensuring families have reliable options for quality care during the work day. As a direct consequence, three million families are projected to lose access to childcare nationwide this year, and 70,000 childcare programs are at risk of closing. 

In New Jersey, more than 1,300 childcare programs are expected to close because of it, and more than 100,000 kids are set to lose childcare. That’s outrageous. With fewer options and less money in people’s pockets because of decreased Child Tax Credit, it’ll be even harder for families to find and afford quality childcare options.

As a parent, I know how complicated life can become when childcare falls through — even if it’s just for a few hours. Can someone cover for me at work? Is there a neighbor or family member nearby who can help?

The second part of my Childcare Affordability Plan calls for fully restoring and implementing the Childcare Stabilization Grants, which expired last year. These grants have helped establish more than 1,000 childcare centers, and support other existing ones, across New Jersey alone. We clawed back $200,000 for the Ridgewood Y. These grants are key to not just childcare affordability, but also to increasing the number of providers. That’s a big problem, as I mentioned earlier. 

My legislation, the Child Care Stabilization Act, would inject $300 million into childcare in New Jersey, helping 4,400 providers afford to operate, from supplies to staff costs to training, and serve 350,000 Jersey children.

In October, President Biden requested emergency childcare funding for Childcare Stabilization Grants in his supplemental request to Congress and more than 150 Members of Congress backed his proposal.  

The final part of my Childcare Affordability Plan focuses on helping the hardest-pressed families. We need to do everything we can to make life more affordable for moms and dads and ensure there isn’t a single child in New Jersey left behind.

That’s why I’ve fought so hard to expand investments in Head Start, and why — as the President’s budget calls for — we must do even more. It’s a vital program that helps our most vulnerable children with everything from early learning and development to childcare to health and wellness. For counties in the Fifth District, we clawed back $77 million for Head Start in 2021 alone.

 I’ve also called on Congressional leaders to provide robust investment this year for the Administration for Children and Families, which administers Head Start. Since I’ve been elected to Congress, annual funding dedicated to Head Start and Early Head Start, key programs helping our children most in need, has increased by more than $2.7 billion since I was elected.

I’ve also sponsored and fought to pass the Child Care for Working Families Act. This comprehensive legislation ensures families can afford the childcare they need, expands access to more high-quality childcare options, works to help stabilize childcare costs, and helps ensure childcare workers taking care of our nation’s kids are paid livable wages. 

The bottom line: my Childcare Affordability Plan will help Jersey families, our children, and support our economy — it’s a win-win-win.

These are tough issues, but the good news is that we know how to solve this problem. And there shouldn’t be anything partisan about it. We just can’t let far-right extremists delay what our families need. 

In the greatest country in the world, I know that if we work together, our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you. God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

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