SOURCE: Programs for Parents

Programs for Parents

January 11, 2010 10:28 ET

Families Struggle With High Child Care Costs: Thousands of New Jersey Children May Be at Risk

NEWARK, NJ--(Marketwire - January 11, 2010) - According to a study conducted by Programs for Parents, Inc., and the New Jersey Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NJACCRRA), the current recession is taking a huge toll on child care -- forcing parents to choose between basic necessities for their family and the quality of child care for their children.

The costs of child care are staggering. The study revealed that child care expenses for two children, at any age, exceeded a family's median rent cost and were as high, or higher than, a family's average monthly mortgage payment. Furthermore, the average price of infant care in New Jersey was higher than the tuition cost of any four-year public college in New Jersey while child care for a four-year-old was higher than the tuition at all but one of the state's public colleges.

According to Beverly Lynn, CEO of Programs for Parents, "The cost of quality child care is out of reach for too many families. This affects approximately 389,000 children under age six in New Jersey and approximately 57,800 in Essex County who are in need of child care because both parents work to make ends meet. In the case of single parents the consequences are even more dire." In fact, in New Jersey, families spend an average of 17.1% of their household income on full-time infant care while families with four-year-olds spend an average of 13.9% on full-time child care.

Child care is particularly unaffordable for single parents. Female heads of households in Essex (earning $28,000) spend, on average, 32% of their household income on full-time infant care and 27% on child care for a four-year-old. (The New Jersey averages for female heads of households are 36.4% for infant care and 29.6% for four-year-old care.) "If assistance wasn't available, many of these parents would be forced to go on welfare," said Lynn.

To make matters more complicated, Newark, the largest urban community in Essex County, charges lower child care fees, simply because families cannot afford to pay more. Consequently, there are fewer dollars to support well-trained staff, classroom materials and supplies, and overall quality unless the center is funded by sources other than parent fees. Studies have repeatedly shown that high-quality child care that provides a loving, safe, stable and age-appropriate, stimulating environment helps children enter school ready to learn. Lynn added, "It's time to make child care affordable to all families. The consequence of turning our backs on our children is disastrous."

In order to improve access to affordable, high-quality child care for all families, NJACCRRA, New Jersey's network of child care resource and referral agencies (CCR&Rs) recommends:

--  increasing federal and state investments in child care fee assistance and
    quality improvement efforts to provide stable and predictable funding to
    cover a child care center's full range of expenses for a high-quality
--  raising the maximum reimbursement rates to reflect the costs local child
    care providers charge families to ensure that eligible children have equal
    access to quality child care;
--  providing resources for planning and developing child care capacity to
    increase the availability of child care options for working families;
--  raising the income eligibility threshold to allow struggling families
    access to child care subsidy support;
--  revising  tax codes to provide child care access to families of all
    income levels;
--  implementing a Quality Rating and Improvement System so that families
    have qualitative information about child care options; and
--  designing a system to help underwrite the cost of child care so that all
    families, not only the wealthy, can afford quality child care.

To download a copy of the full report or an Essex County profile, or to learn more about Programs for Parents, please visit

Programs for Parents (PFP) is a not-for-profit organization which works to ensure that children get the best possible start in life. PFP supports children, families, and child care providers in Essex County through advocacy and action, offering education, referrals, sharing of best practices, and access to available financial resources. Programs for Parents serves up to 15,000 children each month through its subsidy programs.

The New Jersey Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NJACCRRA) promotes a universally accessible, affordable, and high-quality system of early care and education that is responsive to parental choice. NJACCRRA is dedicated to developing and maintaining accountable, local CCR&R services throughout the state. To download a copy of the full report or an Essex County profile, or to learn more about Programs for Parents, please visit

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Rossana Weitekamp
    Phone: 516-593-2413
    Email: Email Contact

    Beverly Lynn
    Programs for Parents, Inc
    Phone: 973-297-1114
    Email: Email Contact