- Child Care Block Grant Overview
- Child Care Options
- Checklist for Quality Child Care
- Child Care Referrals
- Choosing a Child Care Program
- Financial Assistance
On November 19, 2014, President Obama signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 into law. This reauthorizes the child care program for the first time since 1996 and represents an historic re-envisioning of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program. The new law makes significant advancements by defining health and safety requirements for child care providers, outlining family-friendly eligibility policies, and ensuring parents and the general public have transparent information about the child care choices available to them.
Locating and selecting the right child care program for your child and family can be one of the most stressful and challenging tasks for a parent. The Department of Children’s Services is here to help!
One of the most important services we provide is maintaining the database of all licensed and registered child care providers in Camden County. Whether you are working, going to school or wanting a program of social and educational enrichment for your child, parents can obtain child care referrals as indicated below:
Our experienced child care counselors will:
- Help you sort out and identify your child care needs
- Discuss available child care options
- Provide referrals from our database of over 500 licensed and registered child care providers in Camden County
- Offer counseling and a check list about what to look for in a quality child care program
- Connect income eligible families with opportunities for financial assistance to help pay for child care
- Follow up each initial referral call with a Parent Packet containing additional information to help parents have a positive child care experience
- Link families and communities with additional resources to address specific needs
Our referral service is free and confidential.
The Department of Children’s Services does not endorse or recommend any child care program because we believe it is the right and responsibility of parents to select the most appropriate child care setting for their child and family. We encourage parents to become informed about their options and what to look for in a quality child care program, then visit and compare choices to select the one that best meets their family’s needs.
It’s important to understand the types of child care that are available in your community. The Department of Children’s Services maintains a database of over 500 child care providers in Camden County which includes the following options:
Center-based child care programs:
In New Jersey, center-based child care programs are licensed to care for six or more children at one time outside the home setting. The Office of Licensing in the Department of Children and Families regulates these programs according to the Manual of Requirements for Licensed Day Care Centers which can be found online here.
Center-based programs include the following:
- Child Care Centers provide an early childhood educational experience for children from birth to thirteen years of age in before and after school programs, and during holidays and summer vacations. Programs can range in size from as few as fifteen children for a mini child care program to 200 or more children. Care may be full or part-time but less than 24 hours a day.
- Nursery or Preschool Programs offer morning or afternoon sessions for three to five year olds and operate only during the school year. Children may attend for one or two years of education and socialization before entering kindergarten.
- Head Start provides a tuition free preschool experience for three to five year olds from income eligible families and typically operates during the hours of the school day and months of the school year. Some programs, however, may offer extended hours and summer care.
- School Age Child Care (SACC) is care before and/or after school for children six to thirteen years of age. Some programs may also operate during school holidays and during summer months. The care may be provided in a school, community agency or child care center, as well as a family child care home. Programs operated by public or private schools are exempt from licensing.
Family Child Care:
Family Child Care offers care in the home of the provider in a family setting. Providers may care for children from birth to thirteen years of age and are more likely to accommodate evening and weekend hours for working parents. In New Jersey, Family child Care providers may care for a up to five children at one time who do not live in the in the home with them. Registered provides are allowed to care for three additional children of their own under the age of six, with no limit on the number of their own school age children. Just as in a child care center setting, these programs should offer a daily schedule of developmentally appropriate activities for children in their care.
Family Child Care Registration is voluntary and is administered by the child care resource and referral agency in each county. Only registered providers appear on the Department of Children’s Services referral database. For more information on becoming a registered family child care provider in Camden County, please call: 856-374-6376. To download the Family Child Care Manual of Regulations, please click here.
Summer camps offer a recreational experience for children during the summer months. They may be day camps or sleep away camps. These programs may be operated privately or by community agencies and are regulated by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
Non-regulated child care options:
Parents may choose to use a form of non-regulated care such as a caregiver coming to their home, a family child care provider who has chosen not to participate in the voluntary registration process, play groups, drop in programs where a parent is in the building or infant/toddler and preschool programs operated as part of a public or private school. There are also a number of organized summer programs run by municipalities, dance and theatre groups which do not require licensing. The Department of Children’s Services does not provide referrals to these programs or to nanny services. However, the guidelines for choosing quality child care can still be used to help select a provider.
Regulatory Agencies for Camden County:
NJ Department of Children and Families, Office of Licensing
(877) 667-9845 for Child Care Centers, Head Start, Nursery Schools, School Age Child Care Programs.
Camden County Department of Children’s Services
(856) 374-6317 for Family Child Care
NJ Department of Health and Senior Services
(609) 826-4941 for Summer Camps
If you should have issues or complaints about a child care provider that you are unable to resolve, please call the appropriate regulatory agency to file your complaint. If you have concern about services provided by the Dept. of Children’s Services, please contact the office of the Director at (856) 374-6378.
Consider the following steps as you make your decision. Remember, the more informed and educated you are about your options, the easier and more comfortable the decision will be.
- Contact the providers. Once you have your referrals, call the providers, inquire about openings and hours of operation and schedule a time to visit the programs. Whenever possible, our staff will try to provide at minimum of three referrals.
- Visit Several Programs. Try to visit during busy times of day to see how smoothly the program operates. Using the Child Care Checklist, observe the caregiver, the children and the environment. Pay particular attention to the caregiver’s interactions and relationship with the children. You should consider visiting again and taking your child with you. Many parents also do drop-in visits to see the program unannounced.
- Make your decision. Once your search is completed, compare your findings. And trust your instincts! What setting will provide a happy, secure and enriching environment for your child and give you a sense of security and peace of mind?
- Stay Involved. When you have made your decision and enrolled your child, continue to communicate with your provider on a regular basis about the progress of your child. Good child care is a partnership between parent and provider. Be alert and informed. Always expect the highest quality care. It’s what’s right for your child, for your provider and for you as a parent.
If you have additional questions as you continue your search, please contact our Community Referral line at (856) 374-6392.
Families who are working or attending school should have access to quality child care for their children. However, paying for the child care services may be out of reach for many. Several options exist to help income eligible families either through child care subsidy programs, tax credits or employer assistance programs.
- New Jersey Cares for Kids Voucher (NJCK) provides child care subsidies for income eligible families when the parent or parents are working or in a training activity 30 hrs. or more each week. In Camden County, the NJCK child care subsidy program is administered by the Department of Children’s Services. To learn more about the eligibility guidelines and to download an application, visit http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dfd/programs/child/forms, or call our office at (856) 374-6376 for additional information.
- There are currently 23 licensed contracted child care centers in Camden County which offer subsidized child care at their centers. They use the same income eligibility as the NJCK voucher program. For more information on these centers, please call the Dept. of Children’s Services at (856) 374-6376.
- Camden County Head Start is a federally funded preschool program for children ages three to five years of age. The program is free to income eligible parents. Head Start centers are located throughout the county. For more information, call the Dept. of Children’s Services at (856) 374-6376 or contact the Head Start Administrative Office at (856) 964-2100.
- In Camden County, the NJ Pre-K Expansion Program offers free preschool to all three and four year old children who are residents of Camden City or Gloucester City. In Camden City, the program is available in the elementary schools and in several licensed child care centers. For more information, parents should call the Camden Board of Education at (856) 966-2445. The Gloucester City program operates in the elementary schools. For information, please call (856) 456-9394 ext. 166.
- The Kinship Navigator Program provides child care assistance and other support services to eligible adults who are raising relatives’ children in their own home. For more information about the Kinship Navigator program, call 2-1-1 or visit http://www.nj.gov/dcf/families/support/kinship/
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) - Both the federal and NJ state government offer Earned Income Tax Credits to income eligible parents who work full or part-time. For more information about the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, call 1-800-829-1040. For information about the NJ Earned Income Tax Credit, call 1-888-895-9179.
- Dependent Care Tax Credit (DCTC) - The Dependent Care Tax Credit is available to parents who have employment-related child care expenses. Visit the National Women’s Law Center at www.nwlc.org for more information.
- Child Care and Early Education Service Eligiblity Application Certification Employer Assistance and Flexible Spending Accounts - Check with your employer to see if child care assistance is offered as a benefit. For more information on flexible spending accounts offered by employers, visit www.nwlc.org
For more information about any of the programs listed above, contact the Camden County Department of Children’s Services at (856) 374-6376, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.