By Francine Foner, Esq., Ty Hyderally, Esq.
On September 14, 2020, New Jersey State Senator Kristin M. Corrado introduced Senate Bill 2904, aimed at providing some financial relief to parents and guardians forced to incur day care tuition costs due to pandemic-related school closures or the use of virtual or remote school instructions. Many working New Jersey parents and guardians are unable to stay home with their children, and normally rely upon the public schools as a safe place for their children to remain while they are at work. However, with onset of the pandemic and resulting school closures or remote learning, many working parents have had to place their children in day care in order for them to continue to work. This has placed a heavy financial burden on many working families.
The proposed law would create a grant program in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) funded from a $500,000 of the federal block grant funds allocated to the State from the federal “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” Pub.L.116-136, “and any other monies appropriated or made available for the grant program.” The bill defines “eligible parent or guardian” as an individual “who: (1) is employed full-time or part-time; and (2) has a child who is enrolled or will be enrolled in a child care center licensed pursuant to the provisions of P.L.1983, c.492 (C.30:5B-1 et seq.) as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency.”
The new law, if adopted, would permit eligible parents or guardians to apply for reimbursement of child care tuition costs which they have incurred because of school closure or remote school instruction, as long as their child or children were enrolled in a facility licensed under New Jersey’s Child Care Center Licensing Act. N.J.S.A. 30:5B-1 et seq.
This bill states that it would take effect immediately and expire “upon the conclusion of the declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency.” However, the bill does not say how that is to be determined, or who will declare the public health emergency over. The DCF may further clarify the duration of the grant program when, as required by the bill, it adopts rules and regulations to carry out the act.
If enacted, this grant program would provide welcome relief to many working parents and guardians who have been struggling with the added financial burden of paying day care costs due to school closures and remote learning as result of the pandemic.
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