On the heels of Gov. Chris Christie's budget address, a new report finds many child care providers are operating on "shoestring budgets" that prevent them from delivering the best possible care to New Jersey's youngsters.

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Using a statewide survey and focus groups, Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) concluded the state as a whole is failing to provide the resources needed so that the children of working parents can spend their days in nurturing and educational environments.

"Providers understand what quality is, but they're not able to get there," said Cynthia Rice, a senior policy analyst with ACNJ. "Every single component of business is affected."

Rice noted the early years are when a child's brain is developing the most, and "we have to get the biggest bang for our buck."

More than 400,000 New Jersey children age 5 and under spend at least part of their week in some form of child care, according to the report.

The funding aspect that received the most criticism throughout ACNJ's report is the state's reimbursement rate, or what the state offers to help providers assist low-income families with child care needs.

"The reimbursement rate has been stagnant for five years," Rice said. "It is lower than the national standard by about $400 a month."