As the Murphy Administration continues to link getting the economy going with childcare, the state plans to invest $700 million in federal COVID relief funds to offer more opportunities.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman at a Oct. 13 virtual press briefing laid out plans to use the monies to help parents pay for childcare, provide bonus pay to childcare workers, and distribute grants and increase support for child care providers. The initiative relies mainly on American Rescue Plan funding.
“We know that childcare is one of the key challenges facing families—especially single moms—as they rejoin our workforce,” said Murphy. “Through these investments, we are committed to providing the necessary support to ensure that this challenge does not become an obstacle.”
Among the initiatives the state will back include:
- Continuing to help eligible families by covering the additional amount they may owe for fees or the difference between what the state pays and the provider charges. This assistance began in September and is now extended to December 2023. These additional payments provide up to $300 for full-time care, or $150 for part-time care, per eligible child, per month on top of the childcare assistance rate paid by the state on behalf of the family.
- Waiving copayments in the state’s childcare subsidy.
- $1,000 bonuses will be provided beginning this Winter to help providers recruit new childcare employees, retain current childcare staff and funding for an additional bonus will be provided in Summer 2022.
- Childcare providers will be eligible for two new rounds of pandemic stabilization grants to help stabilize and sustain their operations. For licensed childcare centers, grant availability will range from $20,000 to $80,000 in the first round, depending on the number of children they serve. The grants will be $2,000 for family childcare providers.
- Providers can use these dollars to support their operating expenses such as wages and benefits, rent and utilities, cleaning and sanitizing, facilities maintenance and improvements.
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Additionally, grants will again be made available for Summer youth camp providers in 2022 and 2023 to help cover COVID-related costs and assist families with paying for Summer camp.
The allocation comes after Vice President Kamala Harris made a recent stop in North Jersey to push the need for affordable childcare. Harris toured the Ben Samuels Children’s Center at Montclair State University on Oct. 8 before participating in a roundtable with childcare providers and working parents from North Jersey to discuss the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on childcare for families.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, two million women have left the workforce,” Harris said. “The main reason that many of them did is the unavailability of childcare. And let’s be very clear: A working person cannot go to work if they have children if there’s no one to take care of their children. It is that basic.”
Adelman echoed those sentiments, stressing that childcare is a top priority for the Murphy Administration to strengthen the state’s economy and continue the progress of a returning workforce.
Focus on Working Mothers
“We know that affordable, reliable and quality childcare is especially critical for working mothers who have been disproportionately affected by the impacts of the pandemic,” said Adelman. “We are committed to doing everything we can to strengthen and support every segment of childcare in New Jersey.”
Murphy noted the initiative reflects input from families served in the state’s childcare assistance program, childcare providers and various stakeholders through listening sessions, and parent roundtables the department held over the last few months.
During the pandemic, the state has spent $400 million on pandemic-related childcare programs, including launching a temporary emergency childcare program for essential workers; and providing various grants and enhanced payments to child care providers. Funding was also made available to summer camp providers.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,023,983 in-state, plus an additional 455,188 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,479,171 as of Oct. 15. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,765,956 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 195,566 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,961,522. State officials reported 239,252 boosters and third shots of Pfizer and 57,255 a third shot of Moderna.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,344,081 doses (640,891 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,039,740 doses (497,832), Hudson 935,546 doses (450,280), Morris 728,515 doses (345,935), Passaic 646,431 doses (310,432), Sussex 170,716 doses (83,333), and Warren 111,556 doses (54,094).
As of Oct. 15, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,024,061 with 1,577 total new PCR cases. There were 368 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 154,875. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,178,936.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 19 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,889. The state listed probable deaths at 2,803, bringing the overall total to 27,692. State officials noted 14 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 15, Bergen had a total of 121 new confirmed cases and 35 new probable cases, Essex 85 new cases and 15 new probable case, Hudson 64 new cases and 11 new probable cases, Morris 75 new confirmed cases and 18 new probable cases, Passaic 70 new cases and 19 new probable cases, Sussex 34 new cases and 14 new probable cases, and Warren 27 new cases and one new probable case.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,828, followed by Bergen at 2,667, Hudson with 2,162, Passaic at 1,797, Morris at 1,029, Sussex at 255, and Warren County at 227.
In regards to probable deaths reported Oct. 13, Essex has 311, Bergen has 307, Morris has 265, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 70 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,571,445 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Sept. 27, 33.963 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 672 COVID-related hospitalizations and 182 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 20-Sept. 26, breakthroughs accounted for 24.8% of all new cases (3,000 of 13,507), 4.4% of new hospilizations (39 of 883), and none of the 137 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 15, it remained at 0.94 for a third straight day. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 10 was 5.8%; by region, the rate was 4.3% in the North, 7.2% in the Central region and 7.0% in the South.
The state reported 886 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 258 in the North, 275 in the Central and 353 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 209 are in intensive care units and 118 on ventilators. A total of 106 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions as of Oct. 13, the state has tracked 96 school outbreaks and 521 cases in 84 school districts linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 27 outbreaks and 142 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 444 students and 77 teachers across 19 counties.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey as of Oct. 13, Passaic County has two confirmed outbreak with 62 cases, Bergen County has seven confirmed outbreak with 36 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has six confirmed outbreak with 24 cases, Essex County has five confirmed outbreak with 20 cases and Hudson County has three confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 165 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,349 of the cases, broken down between 728 residents and 621 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,773 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,874 residents and 23,149 staff, for a total of 57,023.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,582 on Oct. 15. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,988 residents deaths and 146 staff deaths.