NEW Funding for N.J. Child and Day Care Centers (updated Sept 1)

New Jersey has planned for a $250 million fund as part of the CARES Act to help child care centers operate and low-income families pay for their services.

If approved by the state legislature, the program called the COVID Child Care Initiative would be run by the state Department of Human Services, and the money would be allocated in four different ways:

  • $50 million will go toward grants for child care providers in New Jersey that have reopened by Oct. 1. Murphy said that will keep more centers open and give parents more options.
  • $30 million will go toward subsidy grants for eligible child care providers for increased costs because of the pandemic.
  • $20 million will go toward subsidies for eligible working families making less than 200% of the federal poverty level who need additional child care for their kids aged 5 to 13 years because of remote school learning.
  • $150 million will go toward tuition assistance for families not eligible for that subsidy but earn up to $79,000 a year and need their children to be watched during the school day.

Applications for the programs will open in early September.

 

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.

State regulation
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.

Buildings
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:

Insurance
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

Taxes
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.

Human resources
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.

Funding
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:

Pandemic-related considerations
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 June 15

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:

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.