Home-based child care: Monmouth County works to benefit local families and workforce

Finding reliable and affordable child care can be a daunting task for families … and, after COVID-19, it became even more challenging due to the shortage of qualified child care providers.

Prior to the pandemic, Monmouth County had 60 registered family child care providers, but as of April 2022, that number of providers dropped to 47 — a decline of 21.7%. This startling statistic, along with an increased number of parents looking for a home-based child care program, prompted the Monmouth ACTS Early Childhood Success Hub to take action.

Hub members collaborated to brainstorm a solution. That’s when Hub member Child Care Resources of Monmouth County, a designated child care resource and referral agency, applied for and received an American Rescue Plan Act COVID-19 Community Recovery Grant from Monmouth County and used the funding to improve and expand the Family Child Care Navigator Program while recruiting and supporting home-based family child care providers. Since the start of the grant, CCR has recruited 11 new family child care providers.

CCR’s family child care navigator, Courtney Noll, is the first person to hold this type of position in the state of New Jersey. Through this initiative, Noll and her team are growing the number of new family child care providers in Monmouth County through targeted recruitment, technology support, marketing coaching and connecting providers to a wide range of resources to improve the quality of their child care programs. She takes pride in empowering these budding entrepreneurs by providing them with the tools they need to be successful business owners.

“Our team found that, post-pandemic, some people were out of work and others decided not to return to their original jobs. At the same time, parents were looking for local, affordable child care options,” Kim Perrelli, executive director, CCR, and co-chair of the Monmouth ACTS Early Childhood Success Hub, said. “We challenged ourselves to think outside of the box and come up with a solution that would benefit residents all around.”

One new business owner is Amber Evans, who recently launched Puzzle Pieces Day Care — a new home-based child care provider in Oceanport. As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, she knows how difficult it is to find adequate child care for kids with special needs.

“I never dreamed of being a business owner, but jumped at the opportunity so I could be a resource to parents who have the same struggles as me, and give them peace of mind that their child will receive proper care,” said Evans. “I’m grateful to Courtney for answering all of my questions and providing marketing resources to help promote my business — she’s my ‘go-to’ person.”

Indumathi “Indu” Anandan, owner of Neptune-based Aroma Child Care, has worked in the child care field for over 20 years and was growing increasingly discouraged by what she was seeing. So, she started her own business to simply provide better care.

“Courtney is a bundle of ideas and knowledge, and helped me every step of the way from setting up my registration and licensing and more,” Anandan said. “She immediately responds to every question and helps me move forward.”

“Once again, Monmouth ACTS serves as a connector for our county’s nonprofit organizations to come together to respond to residents’ needs,” Commissioner Director Thomas Arnone said. “We are proud of their collaborative efforts to date and look forward to new partnerships in the months and years to come.”

“This is a perfect example of county government working collaboratively with local organizations to find solutions — in this case, addressing the child care shortage by inspiring residents to launch their own home-based child care businesses,” Commissioner Susan Kiley, liaison to the Departments of Health and Human Services of Monmouth County, said.