Child care more expensive than college in NJ
A new report prepared by Child Care Aware finds the cost of child care is more expensive than you might imagine. In fact, the annual cost of child care for the typical Garden State family is higher than a year of tuition and fees at some large universities.
"The average family with two children pays 25 percent of their income on child care, when you're talking about a low income family, earning 44 thousand or less,they can spend up to 80 percent -it's a huge amount," said Ceil Zalkind, the executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
She said the unfortunate reality is "we're a high cost of living state, and I think child care is more expensive, even the average cost of child care here, is more expensive than in other states."
Zalkind said New Jersey families who are low income may be eligible for vouchers to help pay for child care.
"But it's been our experience that there are never as many vouchers as people who need them, and what we've seen over the last few years is the application process to document that you're eligible has become very, very difficult for families," she said.
One positive note, according to Zalkind, is the state has a strong licensing system for child care centers, and New Jersey is in the midst of creating a quality improvement rating system, which will help to educate parents about different centers.
However, when it comes to individuals who take care of youngsters in their own homes, "we do not have a very strong regulatory system - it's a voluntary registration, and we're that needs to be strengthened to improve quality."
She said there is legislation pending in Trenton to improve that system. The report also finds child care issues are putting a major financial strain on businesses. When parents have to leave work to attend to kids, the cost to business exceeds $3 billion annually.