United Way Launches Innovative Child Care Program

Rep. Mikie Sherrill and New Jersey's First Lady Tammy Murphy joined United Way of Northern New Jersey in launching the initiative

First Lady Tammy Murphy speaking at Parsippany Child Day Care Center

MORRIS COUNTY — Rep. Mikie Sherrill, (NJ-11) and New Jersey’s First Lady Tammy Murphy joined United Way of Northern New Jersey and its early education partners today to kick off a recruitment drive for home-based child care providers in District 11 to join a new initiative working to reverse the state’s child care deserts.

United Way recently received $1.1 million from Congress for their pilot program United In Care, which seeks to increase access to quality, affordable, and flexible child care for all New Jersey families, beginning with those living paycheck to paycheck, called ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill

“Thanks to Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, First Lady Tammy Murphy, and our partners, we are excited to bring United In Care to the children, families, and providers of District 11,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey CEO Kiran Handa Gaudioso. “High quality, affordable and flexible child care for all working parents is absolutely critical to our state’s economic recovery.”

“As a working mom of four kids, I know that the lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care isn’t just a family problem, it’s an economic problem,” said Rep. Sherrill. “Too many moms have left the workforce and too many child care providers struggle with earning enough to survive. That’s why it’s important that we find ways to fund projects like United In Care that have immediate impacts on our local communities and address the problems head-on. I am proud to have brought direct federal funding to this program to help rebuild our child care sector. Thank you to the First Lady and United Way of Northern New Jersey for all your work on this issue.”

According to United Way’s research, 37% of the nearly 22,000 families with children in District 11 were considered ALICE or in poverty and struggled to afford basics pre-pandemic.

Press conference at Parsippany Child Day Care Center

United In Care has been working to get the building blocks in place to create an alliance of child care providers within District 11, which spans parts of Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Sussex counties. The first step was identifying Parsippany Child Day Care Center, where today’s event was held, as the anchor for the pilot’s shared services model which seeks to maintain and expand the existing child care infrastructure.

The next step is to recruit up to 10 registered home-based child care providers with help from Child & Family Resources of Mount Arlington. Through United In Care, these local small businesses will access free resources, expertise, and technical support. United In Care is designed to also improve the quality of life for child care workers in the program, many of whom are ALICE essential workers.

United In Care is currently looking for home-based child care providers to join the District 11 alliance. Any business owners interested in participating can contact Susan.Cohen@UnitedWayNNJ.org or call her at (973) 220-9494. Providers can also call Child & Family Resources at (973) 398-1730.

United In Care was conceptualized during the COVID-19 pandemic as New Jersey was at risk of losing more than half its child care supply. Since its launch in 2020, United In Care has established an alliance in three other child care deserts across the state: Hudson County, Warren County, and Gloucester/Camden counties. There are many portions of District 11 where there is a scarce supply of child care, according to Childcaredeserts.org.

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, Barclays and Reinvestment Fund. For more information, click here.