September 1, 2022
Staffing shortages are affecting many facets of life for New Jerseyans and Americans across the country. One of the latest impacts comes regarding childcare in the state.
As stated in a report from Advocates for Children in New Jersey, a staffing shortage in childcare, particularly for infant-toddler classrooms, is largely due to the historically low salaries and poor health benefits associated with the early childhood care workforce, as well as the increased stress of working with very young children, which intensified during the pandemic.
The report found that as of July 2022, childcare employment was still 8.4% below what it was in February of 2022, with almost 90,000 childcare professionals having left the workforce for higher-paying and less stressful jobs. In New Jersey, as of May 2021, the annual mean wage of a New Jersey early childhood teacher was $31,450.
Advocates for Children in New Jersey has found that this has culminated into New Jersey childcare programs offering 10 fewer seats for infants and toddlers, even if they have the space, simply due to staffing issues.
New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) is sponsoring a package of bills that would make childcare more accessible and affordable. One such bill in the package, S2476, was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on June 30, 2022. This law establishes a competitive grant program for infant and toddler childcare programs, appropriating $28 million for the cause.