Policy Brief/Analysis

What Do We Know About Infant and Toddler Care in New Jersey?

Executive Summary

Most of New Jersey’s nearly 300,000 children under age 3 receive nonparental child care. While highly diverse, this population widely shares a common characteristic: a high rate of parental labor force participation. This makes the affordability and quality of child care particularly important in New Jersey because it has long-term consequences for child development and the state’s economy as well as for immediate parental employment. In this “snapshot” we highlight some key facts and questions relating to infant toddler care in New Jersey based on several of the ITC’s initial projects. For example, New Jersey’s child care subsidy program serves just a small fraction of eligible families with infants and toddlers even though it appears many more cannot afford high quality care. This raises questions about families’ perceptions of their needs for quality care and the state subsidy program. Also, the pandemic has disrupted work and child care, raising costs and dramatically reducing the numbers of infants and toddlers in licensed center-based care. To what extent are these long term changes? If policies are to better support high quality infant and toddler care, these and other questions about quality, affordability and what determines parent demand for care by type and subsidy use must be answered.

The Authors

W. Steven (Steve) Barnett is a Board of Governors Professor and the founder and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Dr. Barnett’s work primarily focuses on public policies regarding early childhood education, child care, and child development.