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United Way Receives $1.1 Million From Congress To Reverse Child Care Deserts

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Backed by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, United In Care project funded for N.J.’s 11th Congressional District

Backed by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, (NJ-11), United Way of Northern New Jersey was awarded $1.1 million in federal funding to address the growing child care crisis within Sherrill’s district, which includes portions of Morris, Essex, Sussex and Passaic counties.

This funding paves the way for including Sherrill’s district in United Way’s new United In Care project, which is advancing a data-driven approach to reversing the loss of quality, affordable child care in the state.

“We are so grateful for Congresswoman Sherrill’s commitment to addressing the child care crisis that existed in this country long before the pandemic brought it into the spotlight,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “This infusion of funding will deliver critical resources to financially strapped families and struggling child care providers in northern New Jersey.”

United In Care was launched during the COVID-19 pandemic as New Jersey was at risk of losing more than half its child care supply. The pilot project is working to increase the availability and affordability of quality child care for those who struggle to afford the basics—ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and families in poverty. The project also aims to improve the quality of life for child care workers, many of whom are ALICE essential workers.

“As a working mother of four, I know how important it is to have access to high-quality and affordable child care. And, as parents and child care providers across NJ-11 will tell you, the pandemic only made the situation more challenging. New Jersey now has some of the lowest rates of availability in the nation," said Rep. Mikie Sherrill. "The United Way of Northern New Jersey’s United In Care program aims to rebuild New Jersey’s early education and care sector. This funding will go toward a pilot project to increase access here in NJ-11. I am proud to have led the efforts in the House to cut through bureaucratic red tape and secure funding for projects like this one that will have a direct impact on our local community and our economy. I want to thank the United Way of Northern New Jersey for all of the work they do and for submitting this project that will make our communities an even better and more affordable place to live.”

Central to the project’s approach is the creation of regional alliances between a licensed child care center and up to 10 registered home-based child care providers. Through these alliances, businesses share resources, expertise and technical supports, helping to maintain and expand the existing child care infrastructure. Since its launch, United In Care has established an alliance in three child care deserts across the state: Hudson County, Warren County and Gloucester/Camden counties. All three areas also have more than 35% of households falling into the ALICE demographic.

The federal money will support the formation of a dedicated shared-services alliance within Sherrill’s district. United In Care is currently in discussions with a Parsippany-based child care center to serve as its anchor institution. Recruitment of home-based providers will follow shortly, with help from the state’s referral agency, Child & Family Resources.

In the short time United In Care has been in operation, it’s already begun to address the gap in supports for both child care providers and parents by:

  • Providing tuition assistance so 31 children could attend quality child care programs their parents could not afford on their own.

  • Funding training, staffing and tuition assistance at two centers so that 33 children with special needs could attend summer program during the pandemic.

  • Distributing $100,000 worth of personal protective equipment and 10,000 COVID-19 rapid at-home test kits to child care providers and families.

  • Providing critical technology, professional development and business support to help child care providers increase enrollment and revenue while increasing quality and strengthening sustainability.

In addition to the federal funds, United In Care is supported by the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, Overdeck Family Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, David A. Tepper Foundation, New Jersey Health Initiatives and Barclays.

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