New Jersey Early Childhood State Policy Profile
The Early Childhood State Policy Profile shows which state policies meet benchmarks that are favorable to the well-being of children and their families. The Profile includes policies that are key elements of a two-generation approach to supporting the well-being and life opportunities of young children and their parents, in the areas of health, early care and education, and parenting and economic support.
A two-generation framework for policy design reflects extensive research that identifies the critical supports young children need over time to thrive. Most two-generation supports for young children and families are created through the collective impact of multiple policies. An example is investment in prekindergarten programs and an effective quality improvement system that promotes children’s access to high-quality early care and education programs along with state policies such as the Earned Income Tax credit and minimum wage that raise the incomes of low-income working families; another is policies that ensure mental health screenings and access to quality health care for both children and parents.
A brief overview of policies in the EC State Policy Profile is provided below (see policy definitions for an explanation of benchmarks). The Profile is limited to policies for which 50-state data are available. Users who wish to examine additional policies specific to their state, within a two-generation framework, can find suggestions in State Policies through a Two-Generation Lens: Strengthening the Collective Impact of Policies that Affect the Life Course of Young Children and their Parents.
Health and Development
States can support young children’s development by making key policy choices in early health and development. This section of the Profile highlights states’ policy choices for supporting young children’s well-being: 1) Access to and continuity of health care, including state Medicaid/CHIP eligibility levels and coverage of legal immigrant children; 2) Parents’ access to health care, including for low-income pregnant women, and access to a medical home for young children; and 3) Preventive screening and assessment, including adherence to recommended schedules for well-child visits.
Early Care and Education
States make important decisions about the early care and education services they provide to young children and families. This section of the Profile highlights states’ key policy choices that affect children’s development and parents’ ability to work: 1) Access to childcare, including subsidy eligibility levels and reimbursement rates; and 2) States’ investment in Head Start, Early Head Start, pre-kindergarten, child care centers’ class size and student-teacher ratios and investment in infant/toddler specialist networks and credentials and Quality Rating Improvement Systems.
Parenting and Economic Supports
States make critical policy choices that help low-income parents effectively support young children’s healthy development. This section of the Profile spotlights states’ policy choices related to important economic supports for low-income families with young children: 1) TANF requirements for parents of young children; and 2) Income support policies including tax relief, earned income and dependent care tax credits, as well as child support disregards.
Young children (under age 6)1: 638,944
Percent of children under 6 by income levels, 2021
Percent of children under 6 by race/ethnicity, 2021
Percent of children under 6 by family income and race/ethnicity, 2021
Percent of children under 6 by parents’ immigration status, 2021*
*If one of the parents is an immigrant, that case is counted under the immigrant group.
Percent of children under 6 by family income and parents’ immigration status, 2021
Health and Development Policies
Sets the income eligibility limit for public health insurance (Medicaid/CHIP) at or above 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL)
Children <1 year 2
Sets eligibility at 355% (S-CHIP) and 199% (Medicaid)
Children 1-5 years 2
Sets eligibility at 355% (S-CHIP) and 147% (Medicaid)
Children 6-18 years 2
Sets eligibility at 355% (S-CHIP) and 147% (M-CHIP and Medicaid)
Pregnant women 2
Sets eligibility at 205% (CHIP) and 194% (Medicaid)
Provides lawfully residing immigrant children with Medicaid/CHIP coverage without 5-year waiting period 2
Provides lawfully residing pregnant immigrant women with Medicaid/CHIP coverage without 5-year waiting period 2
Provides temporary coverage to children under Medicaid or CHIP until eligibility can be formally determined 3
Provides temporary coverage to pregnant women under Medicaid until eligibility can be formally determined 4
Provides 12-month continuous eligibility for both Medicaid and CHIP (for child) 5
The state only provides 12-month continous eligibility for CHIP.
Provides 12 months of postpartum Medicaid coverage for all eligible women 6
New Jersey has implemented its postpartum extension through a Section 1115 waiver.
Extends Medicaid coverage for family planning to otherwise ineligible low-income women 7
Eligibility based on income up to 205% FPL, including men.
Has adopted Medicaid expansion as part of the Affordable Care Act 8
Includes at-risk children in the definition of eligibility for IDEA Part C 9
The relationship between being an at-risk state and the number of children served varies. Some non-at-risk states have higher than average percentages of children being served in Early Intervention (EI). See graphs for the state EI data.
Has an online dual-benefit form to apply for Medicaid and SNAP 2
Requires or recommends maternal depression screening as a part of well-child visits under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit 10
Has at least one Help Me Grow affiliate site that has fully implemented a centralized access point 11
EPSDT screening periodicity schedule meets recommendations of American Academy of Pediatrics
7 screenings for children <1 year [FY 2021]12
State requires 7 screens. 86% of eligible screens were completed in 2021.
4 screenings for children 1-2 years [FY 2021]12
State requires 5 screens. 96% of eligible screens were completed in 2021.
3 screenings for children 3-5 years [FY 2021]12
State requires 3 screens. 90% of eligible screens were completed in 2021.
4 screenings for children 6-9 years [FY 2021]12
State requires 4 screens. 71% of eligible screens were completed in 2021.
Percent of children under 6 who lack health insurance, 2021
Percent of uninsured children under 6 by family income, 2021
Percent of children under 3 receiving Early Intervention services in 2020-2021
Percent of children under 3 receiving Early Intervention services by race/ethnicity in 2020-2021*
*EI rates are not displayed where the cell size is small as the data are not reliable.
Percent of eligible children who received at least one EPSDT screening, by age, FY 2021
Early Care and Education Policies
Sets the income eligibility limit for child care subsidies at or above 85% SMI 15
Uses payment rate at or above the 75th percentile of current market rate for center-based care at the highest quality QRIS tier 15
The reimbursement rate for center care for a four-year-old statewide at the highest quality tier was 11% higher than the rate at the lowest quality tier.
Funds a pre-kindergarten program 16
$891,476,664 in 2022
Supplements Head Start 16
$48,481,162 in 2022
Requires districts to offer full day kindergarten 17
Districts where more than 40 percent of students are identified as "at-risk" are requireed to offer full-day kindergarten programs.
Requires one adult for every four 18-month-olds in child care centers 18
Child care regulations require one adult for every 6 children.
Requires one adult for every ten 4-year-olds in child care centers 18
Child care regulations require one adult for every 12 children.
Requires one teacher for every 12 students in kindergarten classrooms 17
Requires one teacher for every 21 students in school districts where 40 percent or more of the students are "at-risk"
Requires that infants and toddlers in child care centers be assigned a consistent primary caregiver 18
Has implemented a statewide Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) 19
Has comprehensive, free-standing standards for social emotional learning at the K-12 level 20
Requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree for lead teachers in public pre-K programs and licensed child care centers 21
Only lead teachers in public pre-K programs are required to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree.
Monthly child care co-payment fees as a percent of income for a family of three with one child in care, 2022
Notes: 1) Zero percentages suggest that families are exempt from co-payment fees; 2) In Idaho, a family of three with an income at 150% FPL is not eligible for child care subsidies.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth grade math and reading scores, 2022
Note: NAEP defines proficiency as “solid academic performance for the given grade level and competency… including subject-matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real-world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to the subject matter.”
Parenting and Economic Supports Policies
Exempts single parents on TANF from work requirements until the youngest child reaches age 1 [FY 2021]24
Parent must return to work when child is 3 months old.
Reduces the TANF work requirement to 20 hours or less for single parents with children under age 6 [FY 2021]24
Required to work 35 hours.
Has paid family leave for a minimum of 6 weeks with partial replacement of wages 25
Offers accrual of at least five paid sick days 26
Employees can earn and use up to 40 hours per year of paid sick leave.
Established a state minimum wage that meets or exceeds $13.00/hr and is indexed to inflation for a family of three 27
$14.13 ($15 effective 1/1/2024). For small employers (six employees or fewer), the minimum wage is $12.70 ($13.50 effective 1/1/2024).
Sets gross income eligibility limit at 200% FPL and does not have asset limits for SNAP 28
Gross income limit is set at 185% FPL. No asset limit.
Does not charge personal income tax for single-parent families of three below the federal poverty level [TY 2021]29
Offers a refundable state dependent care tax credit [TY 2022]30
Under New Jersey Child and Dependent Care Credit, the maximum refundable credit is $2,100.
Offers a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit 31
Offers a refundable Child Tax Credit 32
$500 per child under the age of 6 for qualified taxpayers with income no greater than $30,000. The credit is phased out by $100 for different income brackets.
Keeps copayments for child care subsidies at or below 7% of family income for families of three at 150% FPL 15
Copayments set at 3% of income.
Offers exemptions and/or extensions of the TANF benefit time limit for women who are pregnant or caring for a child under 6 months of age [FY 2021]24
Time limit extensions are offered to women who are in month 7 or later of pregnancy and to parents caring for a child under 3 months of age.
Offers a minimum of 28 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits 33
State provides up to 26 weeks of regular state-funded UI.
Funds a housing program that provides rental assistance to low-income families with children to avoid eviction or homelessness 34
New Jersey's State Rental Assistance Program (SRAP) is available to state residents that are not currently holders of federal Section 8 vouchers. Families with incomes at 30% AMI (area median income) or less are eligible. The total funding was $45 million in FY 2019.
Percent of low-income children under 6 by parents’ employment status, 2021
Education levels of mothers with children under 6, 2021
Maximum annual TANF benefit for a family of three, for FY 2022
Percent of low-income families with children under 5 that receive SNAP, 2021*
*Because the available data only allow setting the low-income threshold at 185% FPL, low-income families in this graph include those with annual income below 185% FPL.
Percent of children under 6 living in families that experience housing insecurity, 2021*
*A child’s family experiences housing insecurity when their rents or owner costs (e.g., mortgage payments) exceed 30% of the family income on a monthly basis.
Data Notes and Sources
- State data were calculated from the 2017-2021 American Community Survey, representing information from the years 2017 to 2021. National data were calculated from the 2021 American Community Survey, representing information from 2021.
- Brooks, T., Gardner, A., Yee, P., Tolbert, J., Corallo, B., Ammula, M., & Moreno, S. (2023). Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility, Enrollment, and Renewal Policies as States Prepare for the Unwinding of the Pandemic-Era Continuous Enrollment Provision. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Https://files.kff.org/attachment/REPORT-Medicaid-and-CHIP-Eligibility-Enrollment-and-Renewal-Policies-as-States-Prepare-for-the-Unwinding-of-the-Pandemic-Era-Continuous-Enrollment-Provision.pdf (accessed June 5, 2023).
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2021). Presumptive Eligibility. https://www.medicaid.gov (accessed July 14, 2022).
- Brooks, T., Gardner, A., Osorio, A., Tolbert, J., Corallo, B., Ammula, M., & Moreno, S. (2022). Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility and Enrollment Policies as of January 2022: Findings from a 50-State Survey. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. https://files.kff.org (accessed Feburary 8, 2023).
- KFF. (2023). State Health Facts. State Adoption of 12-Month Continuous Eligibility for Children?s Medicaid and CHIP. https://www.kff.org (accessed on July 17, 2023).
- Kaiser Family Foundation. (2023). Medicaid Postpartum Coverage Extension Tracker. https://www.kff.org (accessed August 21, 2023).
- Guttmacher Institute. (2023). Medicaid Family Planning Eligibility Expansions. https://www.guttmacher.org (accessed September 26, 2023).
- Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. (2023). Status of State Action on the Medicaid Expansion Decision. https://www.kff.org (accessed July 17, 2023).
- The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center. (n.d.). State and Jurisdictional Eligibility Definitions for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Under IDEA Part C. https://ectacenter.org (accessed February 15, 2023).
- National Academy for State Health Policy. (2023). Medicaid Policies for Maternal Depression Screening (MDS) during Well-Child Visits, by State. https://nashp.org (accessed on July 17, 2023)
- Help Me Grow National Center. (2023). Help Me Grow Network Affiliates. https://helpmegrownational.org Email correspondences from Melissa Miller on July 31, 2023.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2021). The Annual EPSDT Report (Form CMS-416) for FY 2021. https://www.medicaid.gov (accessed May 23, 2023).
- Early Intervention (EI) rates were calculated by using data from two sources: 2020-2021 EI cumulative counts collected by the US Department of Education and 2017-2021 American Community Survey data. EI rates are not displayed where cell size for the numerator (number of children in EI) is missing, or cell size for the denominator (total number of children) is less than 200. To access EI data, please go to IDEA Section 618 Data Products: Table 11 Cumulative count of infants and toddlers birth through age 2 receiving early intervention services under IDEA, Part C, by race/ethnicity and state 2020-2021. https://data.ed.gov . To access ACS data, please visit the US Census Bureau data tool. https://data.census.gov
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2022). The Annual EPSDT Report (Form CMS-416) for FY 2021. https://www.medicaid.gov (accessed June 7, 2023).
- Schulman, K. (2023). Precarious Progress: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2022. National Women's Law Center. https://nwlc.org (accessed June 13, 2023).
- Friedman-Krauss, A. H., Barnett, W. S., Hodges, K. S., Garver, K. A., Weisenfeld, G. G., Gardiner, B.A., & Jost, T. M. (2023). The State of Preschool 2022: State Preschool Yearbook. National Institute for Early Education Research. https://nieer.org (accessed August 24, 2023).
- Education Commission of the States. (2023). State Education Policy Tracking. https://www.ecs.org (accessed August 24, 2023). NCCP also referenced ECS's 2023 50-State Comparison: State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies. https://reports.ecs.org
- NCCP's review of state child care licensing regulations as of August 23, 2023. Policies were retrieved from the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations. https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov
- The Quality Compendium. (2023). Individual State Profiles. The BUILD Initiative. https://qualitycompendium.org (accessed April 3, 2023).
- Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2023). Social-Emotional Learning Policy at the State Level. https://casel.org (accessed July 31, 2023).
- McLean, C., Austin, L.J.E., Whitebook, M., & Olson, K.L. (2021). Early Childhood Workforce Index 2020. Berkeley, CA: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley. https://cscce.berkeley.edu (accessed March 10, 2021).
- Schulman, K. (2023). Precarious Progress: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2022. National Women's Law Center. https://nwlc.org (accessed June 13, 2023).
- U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2022 Math and Reading Assessment. https://nces.ed.gov (accessed January 24, 2022).
- Knowles, S., Dehry, I., Shantz, K., & Giannarell, L. (2023). Welfare Rules Databook: State TANF Policies as of July 2021. OPRE Report 2023-001. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.acf.hhs.gov (accessed August 22, 2023).
- National Partnership for Women & Families. (2022). State Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Laws. https://www.nationalpartnership.org (accessed November 30, 2022).
- National Partnership for Women & Families. (2023). Paid Sick Days - State and District Statutes. https://nationalpartnership.org (accessed July 19, 2023).
- National Conference of State Legislatures. (2023). State Minimum Wages. http://www.ncsl.org (accessed February 22, 2023).
- Aussenberg, R.A., & Falk, G. (2022). The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Categorical Eligibility. Congressional Research Service. https://crsreports.congress.gov (accessed August 28, 2023).
- Calculations derived from output generated by the National Bureau of Economic Research Internet TAXSIM Version 35, available at http://users.nber.org for the 2021 tax year. For a description of the TAXSIM model, see Feenberg, D. and Coutts, E. (1993). An Introduction to the TAXSIM Model. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 12(1): 189-194.
- National Women's Law Center. (2023). States Can Make Care Less Taxing, Tax Year 2022. https://nwlc.org (accessed April 3, 2023).
- Urban Institute. (2023). State Earned Income Tax Credits. https://www.urban.org NCCP also referenced the Tax Policy Center's State EITC as Percentage of the Federal EITC. Https://www.taxpolicycenter.org/statistics/state-eitc-percentage-federal-eitc (accessed August 24, 2023).
- National Conference of State Legislatures. (2023). Child Tax Credit Overview. https://www.ncsl.org (accessed September 5, 2023).
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (2023). Policy Basics: How Many Weeks of Unemployment Compensation are Available? https://www.cbpp.org (accessed September 18, 2023)
- NCCP's review of state funded rental housing programs as of September 1, 2022. Programs were retrieved from the National Low Income Housing Coalition Database. https://reports.nlihc.org
- Safawi, A. & Reyes, C. (2021). States Must Continue Recent Momentum to Further Improve TANF Benefit Levels. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. https://www.cbpp.org (accessed February 24, 2022).
Last updated on October 5, 2023