Child Care Centers In New Jersey Can Now Apply For Several Grants To Expand Capacity

Licensed child care centers and Head Start/Early Head Start programs in New Jersey can now apply online for the Thriving by Three Infant and Toddler Child Care Grant to help providers expand their capacity for infants and toddlers, and increase high-quality child care services available to families.

The Thriving by Three grant program, created by a law signed by Governor Murphy in 2022, aim to help support the development and creation of infant and toddler slots in child care settings, and provide technical assistance to eligible child care providers for the expansion of child care spaces.

Eligible programs can apply for the Thriving by Three grants through the New Jersey Child Care Information System.

The $28 million grant program includes $20 million allocated to Human Services’ Division of Family Development and $8 million to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, in collaboration with the Department of Children and Families’ Office of Licensing.

The grant is open to licensed child care centers and Head Start/Early Head Start programs, and will be available to registered family child care providers later this year.

To qualify, programs must:

· Comply with state and federal health and safety requirements for child care centers;

· Comply with current child care licensing standards for infant and toddler child care, including, but not limited to, class size, child-to-staff ratios and health and safety standards;

· Be in good standing (no enforcement action or fraud and/or funding misrepresentation investigation or misuse of funds);

· Complete an online application, in which providers must identify a capacity need to develop slots or expand infant and toddler slots; and

· Participate or apply to participate in the state’s child care quality rating and improvement system, Grow NJ Kids, within six months of grant approval.

A Grow NJ Kids program receives support, technical assistance, scholarships and other incentives to improve their program.  Once rated, they receive a higher rate of state payment for children participating in the Child Care Assistance Program.

Eligible providers will receive an initial minimum grant of $3,000 per new infant or toddler child care slot created; $1,000 from each slot must be directed for teacher-related expenses (i.e., bonus or incentive).

Providers must commit to creating a minimum of four slots. If not already enrolled in, or rated by, Grow NJ Kids, providers must enroll within six months of receiving the award.

The grant period is for three years and grants must be renewed each year.

Approximately 12 months after the initial grant, programs must demonstrate they are actively engaged in Grow NJ Kids and have all newly created slots filled.

Programs that meet the required benchmarks for the Year 2 Grant Award will receive an additional minimum grant of $1,200 per infant or toddler slot, $400 of which must be directed for teacher-related expenses.

To receive the Year 3 Grant Award, programs must be actively participating in the Grow NJ Kids rating process and have all newly created slots filled.

Approximately 24 months after the initial award, programs that meet these benchmarks will receive another minimum grant of $1,200 per infant or toddler slot, $400 of which must be used for teacher-related expenses.

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