Childcare Funding for Families in NJ (as of 4/9/21)
New Jersey families with incomes up to $150,000 are now eligible to apply for funding to cover childcare costs for children ages 5-13 through the new COVID-19 school-age tuition assistance program. Families with children in remote schooling can be eligible for up to $1,900 in full-time childcare assistance during this period. Part-time assistance is also available.
Families can apply for this assistance by completing the online application at childcarenj.gov/COVID19. You will need proof of income and a notice or announcement from your child’s school of a remote learning schedule including hours.
The tuition assistance, which is available through June 2021, is paid directly to your selected licensed childcare center or registered childcare provider.
General Information About Childcare during Pandemic
Childcare availability and safety has become a critical social issue as communities in Greater New Jersey develop reopening plans. 15-20% of GNJ churches have childcare centers or pre-schools either managed by the church or operated by others in the church facility.
Operating a childcare center, pre-school or leasing space to do so, can provide needed community service and become a revenue generating for the church. However, childcare centers and pre-schools require conformity with substantial state and local regulation, insurance liability and requirements from the Centers for Disease Control.
List of considerations and resources to help churches proceed.
New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are stringent in regulating all aspects of child care, from the building to employees to finances to insurance. Churches should become familiar with their state guidelines.
- NJ: NJ Department of Children and Families:
- NY: NY Office of Child and Family Services.
- PA: PA Department of Human Services
Two major architectural considerations always have been access—two safe entrances and exits—and handicapped accessibility. With the Covid-19 pandemic another architectural consideration has to do with separate entrances and exits from the church; New Jersey state regulations require that no persons other than child-care and pre-school staff and the children access the child-care or pre-school center space. UMC protocols call for a church to have a valid lease with any outside party renting space from the church. Following is out best guidance:
Whether the child-care center is run by the church or by a tenant, the church needs to have adequate insurance. GNJ’s insurance company, Church Mutual, offers good advice about insurance for child-care centers and has prepared guidelines for reopening of church facilities
If a church leases to a for-profit child-care or pre-school corporation, it may affect the tax-status of the church’s property, thereby affecting the financial viability of the church. Churches should be careful to evaluate how a child-care or pre-school center might affect their tax status.
Employment agreements for child-care workers are more complicated than for most employees for two reasons: First, a church needs to look into a staff person’s background even more strenuously than for a regular employee because of the nature of the work, involving children. Second, it sometimes will be the case that child-care will be offered, say, nine months per year, not 12 months, and accommodations will have to be made for seasonal employees.
Because of the dearth of available child-care slots during the pandemic, we expect that funding for child care may be made available from federal, state, and local governments. We will keep GNJ churches aware of these opportunities. We also would urge churches to apply to the following sources for funding:
- FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). Public assistance (PA) grants
- State of New Jersey Recovery and Reinvestment Plan
- State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families/Department of Human Services funding information
Please note special directives for reopening church buildings and operating child-care centers and pre-schools during the Covid-19 pandemic:
New Jersey Child Care Guidelines for Reopening
State regulations for childcare reopening include:
- Daily temperature checks of both children and staff will be required. Those with a fever of more than 100.4 degrees or any symptoms will not be allowed to enter.
- Classes, using social distancing, will be limited in size, and staff members will not be allowed to move between groups.
- Staff members will be required to wear face coverings and children over the age of two will be “encouraged” to wear them, “whenever feasible.”
- Children under the age of two will not wear masks, nor will any child during naps, to avoid suffocation.
- The centers must be cleaned and sanitized, using CDC standards.
Details on all guidelines and regulations can be found:
- NJ Guidance for Childcare Health and Safety Standards
- At this time, churches considering VBS should following the church reopening guidelines.
This is a fluid situation and churches should follow state directives as they are updated. The directive also is accompanied by a $20 million fund for health and safety grants for which childcare centers, pre-schools and day camp operators may apply.
“We urge childcare centers to take advantage of the state’s generous offer to defray the costs of following these state standards,” said Reinhard.