How to Boost Opportunities for Working Mothers & Families

NEW REPORT: Investments in early care & education plus stronger labor standards would boost economic opportunities for NJ’s working mothers with young children

For the over 400,000 New Jersey mothers with children under the age of 6, balancing child care and career can be a daunting task due to the lack of adequate child care assistance – a task doubly difficult for lower-income moms. This barrier harms New Jersey’s economic growth and state revenues, in addition to the development of children, according to a report released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP).

These working mothers of young children face many barriers to balancing work and parenting, with poor and low-income mothers struggling the most. To solve this complex set of problems, a comprehensive policy response – anchored in increased investments in early care and education, and stronger labor standards – is necessary.

In particular, the NJPP report analyzes the state’s early care and education programs – and their impact on the economic security of New Jersey’s mothers with young children.

“This report helps fill a gap in the public conversation about preschool and other early childhood care and education: the economic impact on mothers of young children who need or want to work,” said Holly Low, the 2017 Kathleen Crotty Fellow at NJPP and author of the report. “When we build strong, high-quality programs for young children, we’re investing in those kids, their mothers, their families and the state’s economy as a whole.”

The report finds that these programs help mothers with young kids earn $1.2 billion in wages and generate over $60 million in property and income taxes annually – numbers that would rise if New Jersey expanded high-quality public preschool.

The report also has original new data on the number of working mothers with young children in New Jersey, their demographics, their occupations, their earnings, their family status and more.

“Working mothers are an important part of New Jersey’s labor force, and they and their families need economic security and brighter opportunities,” said NJPP Vice President Jon Whiten. “If the state is to succeed, it needs a comprehensive policy agenda to boost these working families. That starts with investments in public early care and education programs, but those investments must be coupled with strong labor standards in order to have the greatest impact.”

The report calls on state lawmakers to:

  • Increase preschool aid and call on the federal government to invest further in state preschool programs, with the ultimate goal of universal preschool in New Jersey.
  • Increase the income eligibility for wraparound care in school districts that currently have state-funded preschool.
  • Piggyback on federal tax credits that help families with the cost of raising children and paying for care.
  • Call on the federal government to protect Head Start and the Child Care and Development Fund.
  • Mandate that employers provide workers with predictable and stable work schedules.
  • Increase the state minimum wage to a more livable wage.
  • Ensure that women workers have better tools to fight pay discrimination.
  • Allow all workers to take paid time off of work when they or a loved one is sick.

Read the full report here: