RELEASE: Gottheimer Hosts Childcare Roundtable with Advocates and Providers

Apr 26, 2024
Press

Highlights efforts to expand Child Tax Credit

Works to make quality childcare more affordable for hardworking families

Above: Gottheimer with North Jersey childcare providers and advocates

HACKENSACK, NJ — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) held a roundtable with childcare advocates and providers at Little Learners Child Development Center. Gottheimer and childcare providers and advocates discussed issues impacting childcare, including the Child Tax Credit, affordability and accessibility of childcare, the sustainability of operating a childcare center, and attracting talent to staff childcare centers.

Video of Congressman Gottheimer and roundtable participants’ opening remarks here.

On average, Jersey families spend $442.19 a week on childcare, the second most in the country. The average annual price of infant care, specifically, in Bergen County is $17,460 annually. These steep costs often force working parents to choose between childcare and their careers. Surveys show that more than a quarter of parents have quit a job or dropped out of their studies to avoid childcare costs. Jersey families also lose more than $378 million in earnings because they’re forced to cut work hours or leave their jobs to care for their children. 

“Given how important childcare is to our children, families, and communities, you’d think that we’d be flush with daycares and nurseries. But, the reason why we’re all here today is that childcare in Jersey is actually hard-to-come-by these days – and it’s incredibly expensive,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I’m excited to convene today’s roundtable with childcare providers and advocates to discuss the challenges facing Jersey’s childcare system and share more about my work in Congress to make childcare more affordable, especially the urgent need to pass bipartisan legislation expanding the Child Tax Credit. It passed the House overwhelmingly and now it’s waiting for a vote in the Senate.”

“ACNJ thanks Congressman Gottheimer for highlighting the need for investment in New Jersey’s child care system. We recognize that adequate support for providers alleviates accessibility and affordability challenges for families,” said Shadaya Bennett, Senior Legislative Analyst at Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “To strengthen and sustain the child care infrastructure, targeted funding is needed to ensure families have access to high-quality options in a system with a skilled workforce dedicated to nurturing our youngest residents.”

“Little Learners Child Development Center strives to provide the best quality childcare and education for little ones growing up in the State of New Jersey. Our center strives to promote all areas of development while providing nurturing care, to create a strong foundation for children to continue onward and upward for the rest of their lives,” said Dawn Cleveland, Owner of Little Learners Child Development Center. “We hope the community can help the childcare industry receive the support and admiration for the huge difference early childhood educators make in our civilization.”

Gottheimer is working to make quality childcare more accessible by:

  • Pushing to expand the Child Tax Credit —On Tax Day, Congressman Gottheimer sent a bipartisan letter, urging the Senate to pass the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act. This legislation, which passed the House with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, would expand the Child Tax Credit. The expanded Child Tax Credit would help the parents of 323,000 children across Jersey and lift 400,000 kids out of poverty nationwide.
  • Working to restore full funding of Child Care Stabilization Grants — Gottheimer is helping lead the Child Care Stabilization Act, which would restore full funding to Child Care Stabilization Grants, a program funded by the American Rescue Plan that helped childcareproviders survive during the pandemic. Little Learners Development Center, the host of the roundtable, clawed back a $90,000 Stabilization Grant. Funding for the Stabilization Grants expired in September, and experts project that the gap in funding could shutter more than 70,000 childcare businesses across the country.
  • Investing in childcare options for working families — Gottheimer is leading a range of legislation that makes childcare more accessible for working families. He’s helped increase funding for Head Start, a childcare and nutrition program that serves nearly a million low-income children nationwide. Since he entered office, funding for Head Start has increased by more than $2.7 billion. That’s resulted in important claw backs and investments for Head Start in the Fifth District, including $77 million in 2021 alone. Gottheimer is also co-leading the Apprentice-Related Child Care Act, which would establish a childcare stipend pilot program for Americans in apprenticeship programs.  Finally, Gottheimer is driving the bipartisan Providing Child Care for Police Officers Act of 2023, which would provide grants to open childcare centers tailored to the needs of public safety officers who work non-traditional hours. 

Gottheimer was joined by Meghan Tavormia, Director of Policy at the New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children, Dawn Cleveland, Owner and Director at Little Learners Child Development Center, Rebecca Cleveland, Preschool Teacher at Little Learners Child Development Center, Nicole Barila, Toddler Teacher at Little Learners Child Development Center, Natalie Batista, Infant Teacher at Little Learners Child Development Center, Jimmy Cleveland, Maintenance Support at Little Learners Child Development Center, Shadaya Bennett, Senior Policy Analyst at Advocates for Children of New Jersey, Hannah Korn-Heilner, Policy Associate at Advocates for Children of New Jersey,  Diane Dellanno, Policy Analyst at Advocates for Children of New Jersey, Lana Lee, Media Relations Manager at Advocates for Children of New Jersey, Julie O’Brien, Director at Bergen County Office of Children, and Evelyn Greenberg, Chair for the Bergen County Children’s Advisory Board.

Below: Gottheimer with North Jersey childcare providers and advocates

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery: 

Good morning. It’s great to join you today at the Little Learners Child Development Center here in Hackensack. Childcare centers like Little Learners are the bedrock of our community. Accessible childcare makes it possible for working parents to earn a living and support their families. We also know that quality childcare sets our kids up for success when they graduate onto pre-k and elementary school. 

Given how important childcare is to our children, families, and communities, you’d think that we’d be flush with daycares and nurseries. But, the reason why we’re all here today is that childcare in Jersey is actually hard-to-come-by these days – and it’s incredibly expensive. The economics of childcare are difficult — for both parents and providers. 

I’m excited to convene today’s roundtable with childcare providers and advocates to discuss the challenges facing Jersey’s childcare system and share more about my work in Congress to make childcare more affordable, especially the urgent need to pass bipartisan legislation expanding the Child Tax Credit. It passed the House overwhelmingly and now it’s waiting for a vote in the Senate.  

Let’s run through the numbers: on average, Jersey families spend $442.19 a week on childcare, the second most in the country. The average annual price of infant care here in Bergen County is a whopping $17,460 annually, which is more than in-state tuition at Rutgers. The cost of childcare, combined with the price of commuting, can make it too expensive for parents to work.  

A survey from the Global Coalition on the Business of Education found that twenty-seven percent of parents have quit a job or dropped out of their studies to avoid childcare costs. Unfortunately, even passing on childcare comes with a cost. Jersey families lose more than $378 million in earnings because they’re forced to cut work hours or leave their jobs to care for their children. 

This model is unsustainable for our parents, but it’s also unsustainable for childcare centers and the educators who work within them. In the first year of the pandemic, more than 250 childcare centers closed their doors because they couldn’t survive the drop in revenue. Many of those that stayed open are still paying off debt that they incurred over the past few years. And even though childcare is expensive for parents, the workers taking care of our children often aren’t getting paid enough to make ends meet. If centers cannot afford to stay in business or retain talent, parents will have even fewer options, putting more stress on our families, communities, and the entire economy. 

I won’t sugarcoat it: these are tough challenges. But, I’m working hard, across the aisle in Washington to make quality childcare more accessible. 

First, I’m doing everything I can to put more money in the wallets of working parents, so they can afford childcare. On Tax Day, I announced my new bipartisan push to get the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act through the Senate and onto the President’s text. This bill, which I like to call the bipartisan tax cut bill, will expand the Child Tax Credit, and help pay for childcare, formula, and diapers. The tax cut bill will help the parents of 323,000 children across Jersey and lift 400,000 kids out of poverty nationwide. I won’t stop until we deliver this crucial down payment for our families. 

Second, I continue to advocate for full funding of Childcare Stabilization Grants. During the pandemic, these grants were a lifeline that kept day cares in Jersey open. In fact, Little Learners, where we’re seated right now, received a $90,000 Stabilization Grant. Funding for these grants expired in September 2023, and experts worry that as funding dries up, more than 70,000 childcare centers are at risk of closing. I’m proud to help lead the Child Care Stabilization Act, which would fully invest in our childcare centers for years to come. 

Finally, I’m leading a range of legislation that makes childcare more accessible for our working families. That begins with Head Start, an incredible program that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health care, and enrichment for nearly one million low-income children across America. Since I entered office, we’ve increased funding for Head Start by more than $2.7 billion. That’s resulted in important claw backs and investments for Head Start in the Fifth District, including $77 million in 2021 alone. 

I’m proud to co-lead the Apprentice-Related Child Care or ARCC Act, which would establish a childcare stipend pilot program for Americans in apprenticeship programs. This type of investment is a double win: we’re helping Jersey residents access important job training so they can improve their careers, while also making it easier for them to care for their children.  

I’m also driving the bipartisan Providing Child Care for Police Officers Act of 2023, which would provide grants to open childcare centers tailored to the needs of public safety officers who work non-traditional hours. Cost is only part of the accessibility problem — we also need centers open to serve working parents at all hours of the day.  

When I look around and see all the little learners at this center, I’m reminded of just how critical it is that we invest in the next generation. By working together, across the aisle, to expand access to quality, affordable childcare, I know that our best days will be ahead of us. 

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

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