The New Jersey Department of Human Services is offering two opportunities for child care providers to apply for grants to help pay for operational expenses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Murphy administration has been focused on child care and assisting families and providers to have access to quality and affordable child care since day one of the pandemic, said Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira.

Child care is critical to economic development but during the pandemic, this became a huge concern, she added. Without child care, people can't go to work, and the economy can't thrive or recover from the pandemic without it.

One plan being offered is the American Rescue Plan-funded stabilization grant. This is a stabilization grant meant to help child care providers pay for operational expenses as they continue to navigate during the pandemic.

Neira said the state has received a good turnout from providers so far in engaging in the application process, which can be found by visiting childcarenj.gov.

These grants provide eligible providers anywhere from $30,000 to $120,000 depending on monthly expenses, license capacity, and provider type.

Neira said the money is meant to be used for wages and benefits for the staff, insurance, rent, mortgage, utilities, cleaning and sanitizing, professional development related to health and safety, mental services, and other expenses needed to remain open and operating.

Eligible providers have until April 30 to apply.  To be eligible for the NJ ARP Stabilization Grant, which will be paid in two installments, providers must be licensed in New Jersey. They must comply with federal requirements and be in good standing with state and local health and safety regulations. They also must have been open and operating in the state as of March 11, 2021.

Registered family child care providers are eligible for $4,000 in grants.

The second grant opportunity to help child care providers is the $1,000 hiring and retention bonus grant program, launched by the Murphy administration, in an effort to recruit new child care workers and retain staff.

Neira said the $1,000 bonus grants have been paid to retain employees. Providers can continue to apply through Jan. 14. Grants for recently hired employees will be issued in spring 2022.

A second phase of the $1,000 hiring and retention bonus grant will be available in late 2022.

"Affordable, reliable, and quality child care is vital for working families. We are dedicated to doing everything we can to help stabilize and support every segment of child care in New Jersey," Neira said.

She also hopes the child care community will take advantage of all the opportunities to receive additional funding through the American Rescue Care dollars.

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