Reimagine Child Care
High-quality child care for infants and toddlers is essential for the future of New Jersey, and the challenges faced by the child care industry have only deepened during the time of COVID-19. Recognizing the urgency of this moment, The Nicholson Foundation and the Turrell Fund launched Reimagine Child Care (RCC) to build public support for accessible, affordable, high-quality care for infants and toddlers led by a coalition of early childhood expert organizations in the state, including Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) and the New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children (NJAEYC).
Reimagine Child Care is engaging New Jersey audiences such as parents, early educators, the business sector, and the general public with tailored messages to create champions for the high-quality early care and education our youngest children need to learn, grow, and thrive. Champions will go on to engage policy makers and emphasize the need for funding and support for parents and educators. This engagement work is led by ACNJ with the support of NJAEYC and supplemented by the expertise of strategic communications firm BerlinRosen.
The messages and initiatives in development support and enhance the child care goals defined in the Pritzker Children’s Initiative. This planning grant, awarded to New Jersey and spearheaded by ACNJ, aims to strengthen and streamline a more efficient, effective and well-funded system of early care and education. The goal is to ensure 8,750 more children, birth to 3, will have access to high-quality child care by 2023. To this end, a consistent goal for RCC is to increase public investment in child care.
Utilizing a robust paid ad campaign to attract new supporters: as of October 2020, ads have run 1.1M impressions, generated 2.8K clicks to the website, and 895 email sign-ups.
Capitalizing on state level opportunities with an administration that recognizes the importance of child care and birth to three, most recently directing $250 million in federal dollars to address child care during the pandemic. This investment was made possible due to the advocacy of ACNJ and numerous early childhood partners.
Through a partnership between the Turrell Fund, The Nicholson Foundation, and the Burke Foundation, the ZERO TO THREE program HealthySteps will be implemented at three pilot pediatric primary care sites in the HMH network. Each practice will benefit underserved families with children under age four by connecting families to resources for assistance with mental health, domestic violence, food, and housing issues as well as guidance on common challenges such as feeding, behavior, sleep and adapting to life with a baby or young child.
The HealthySteps program is an organized, integrated pediatric care model. Like many integrated care programs, HealthySteps is multidisciplinary and seeks to combine pediatric medical care, behavioral health care, early education services, family support/education services, and other services, all intended to focus on the needs of children from birth to age three and their families. Funding supports the addition of a full-time clinical social worker trained in the HealthySteps model as well as two HealthySteps specialists.
A 2003 HealthySteps model evaluation studied 15 clinics serving 5,500+ children and families. By age two, HealthySteps children were twice as likely as children in the control group to make timely well-child visits and receive recommended vaccinations and visited the emergency room 23% less frequently for injuries. In addition, HealthySteps parents were:
- Nine times more likely than those in the control group to have discussed age-appropriate, preventive topics with clinic professionals;
- Less likely to have used severe discipline such as a slap in the face or spanking with an object;
- Given 25% more community resource information;
- Twice as satisfied with their pediatric care and more likely to remain at that practice.
Partnering with Seton Hall University Law School to research potential payment streams that will sustain and expand the delivery of the HealthySteps model in NJ.
Participating on different work groups and meetings with NJ early childhood advocates and organizations to discuss opportunities to promote the integrated care model.
Developing proposals and planning discussion with NJ Medicaid regarding billing and coding avenues for reimbursement of HealthySteps services to specialists.
Safe Babies Court Team
New Jersey (Passaic, Essex, and Hudson Counties)
Through a partnership between the Turrell Fund, Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (Passaic County CASA) Essex County CASA, Hudson County CASA, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, the Department of Children and Families, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and numerous other partners, New Jersey successfully secured a $425,000 Safe Babies Court Team (SBCT) implementation grant from ZERO TO THREE. Through this investment, Passaic County CASA and its partners will create new infant-toddler court teams in Passaic, Essex and Hudson Counties. These teams will serve children from birth to three years old in foster care or at risk of removal of their families. The goal is to dramatically reduce the number of babies and toddlers removed from families and strengthening family relationships and positive life trajectories for children who enter foster care.
The Safe Babies Court Team (SBCT) approach, developed by ZERO TO THREE (ZTT), transforms the lives of child welfare-involved infants, toddlers, and families by changing the practices of judges, child welfare workers, service providers, and other community professionals. Judge-led and staffed by a full-time community coordinator, SBCTs meet frequently to provide enhanced judicial oversight and support to families, train staff on the science of early childhood development, connect families to much-needed services, and engage parents as valued partners. Farther upstream, SBCT works with court-involved families with infants and toddlers at risk of entering out of home care, connecting them with services and supports that can help prevent removal and meet the child’s needs while remaining in the home.
(based on ongoing research and evaluation)
- Improved safety: More than 99% of infants and toddlers served by SBCTs did not experience maltreatment within the 12-month period following the initial substantiated allegation.
- Faster time to permanency: Children exit foster care significantly faster than comparison groups.
- Preserved family relationships: Children are more likely to achieve permanency with a member of their biological family.
- Placement stability: At QIC-ITCT sites, 94.2% of children in care for less than 12 months had no more than two placements, compared to the national median of 86%.
- Racial equity: Children of all races and ethnicities were served equally well with regard to both placement stability, and length of stay in foster care.
- Cost savings: A cost analysis found that up to two-thirds of the program’s average cost per child could be directly generated from savings to jurisdictions due to shortened stays in foster care.
New Jersey ACEs Collaborative
The New Jersey ACEs Collaborative (the Collaborative) is a partnership between the Turrell Fund, The Nicholson Foundation, the Burke Foundation, and the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF), serving as a unique public-private alliance seeking to increase public awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and mobilize sectors such as health, business, education, child welfare, government, nonprofit, and philanthropy to coordinate in addressing ACEs across New Jersey.
ACEs are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse, neglect, domestic violence, household mental illness, household substance misuse, and parental separation or divorce. Without the presence of a positive buffer, such as a nurturing parent or caregiver, ACEs can lead to a toxic stress response that disrupts brain architecture and has negative, lifelong effects on health and well-being.
The statewide work of the Collaborative is spearheaded by Dave Ellis, Executive Director for the Office of Resilience within DCF. Ellis leads a cross-sectoral committee comprised of New Jersey leaders to coordinate statewide work, including the development and implementation of a statewide action plan that will address the needs and strengths of New Jersey’s children and parents. In addition, he will represent NJ ACEs initiatives both locally and nationally, identify grassroots and community-led ACEs efforts, and offer technical assistance and support for organizations to implement the action plan.
The goal of the ACEs Collaborative is for New Jersey to become a trauma-informed state, resulting in reduced instances of ACEs and enhanced support systems for children, and helping people who have experienced trauma build resilience. Resilience against instances of ACEs prevents toxic stress and supports New Jerseyans’ long-term health and well-being.
Utilizing a complimentary communications campaign to raise public awareness around ACEs and engage different sectors, including law enforcement and education, to embrace trauma-informed practices and training.
Engaging cross-sector community members through focus groups and collaborative discussions for knowledge-sharing, brainstorming, and planning the development of the statewide action plan.
Producing a report, “Adverse Childhood Experiences: Opportunities to Prevent, Protect Against, and Heal from the Effects of ACEs in New Jersey”, to detail the challenges NJ faces in addressing ACEs and inform the statewide action plan in development.
Learning from and partnering with national experts, including the current Surgeon General of California, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, to inform the work of the NJ ACEs initiative.
Let’s Grow Kids
Evolving from over a decade of strategic early childhood grantmaking, Let’s Grow Kids (LGK) launched in 2014, forging partnerships among community leaders, elected officials, philanthropists, early childhood educators, and volunteers. It aims to create a high-quality, affordable 0-5 child care system that meets the needs of all Vermont families by 2025. At that time, Let’s Grow Kids will “go out of business,” having built a high-quality early care system alongside its partners and ushering in the public funding needed to sustain it.
LGK leverages philanthropy to strengthen Vermont’s early care and learning system by increasing quality and capacity to create impact for infants, toddlers, and families. It also mobilizes Vermonters from all walks of life to call for policy change and public investment in a high-quality early care and learning system. LGK has expertise in communications, data-collection, preparing child care systems for public investment, and coordinating stakeholders across sectors, including business and healthcare. Its approach involves (1) identifying a lever for change, (2) building relationships with stakeholders related to that lever, and (3) deploying philanthropic dollars to catalyze change.
Based on a study commissioned by the Vermont Business Roundtable, the return on investment for increased funding to the state’s early care and education system justifies upfront costs. Findings show that Vermont should expect to see an additional $3.08 saved for every new public dollar invested in high-quality early care and education programming, thanks to cost savings in areas such as:
- Reduced special education costs and grade retention in the K-12 public system
- Reduced criminal justice system costs
- Additional tax revenue
- Additional net lifetime earnings
- Reduced healthcare costs for children and families
Forging a strong peer network among providers so they are empowered to advocate for themselves.
Building off past wins, such as a $7.4 state investment in Vermont child care. This investment was made possible due to the advocacy of LGK and numerous early childhood partners.
Helping family child care programs engage Vermont’s quality rating and improvement system STARS (Step Ahead Recognition System.) By 2015, 75% of family child care homes were participating.