FILE - NJ students, masks 4-29-2021

Students line up April 29, 2021, to enter Christa McAuliffe School in Jersey City, New Jersey.

(The Center Square) – New Jersey plans to spend more than $700 million to help parents pay for child care, provide bonus pay to child care workers and increase support for child care providers.

The state plans to turn to federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) money to cover the bulk of the program’s cost. The feds sent the state more than $6 billion in ARP funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that affordable, reliable and quality child care is especially critical for working mothers who have been disproportionately affected by the impacts of the pandemic,” Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said in an announcement.

The state will extend to December 2023 a program that started in September to subsidize child care costs on top of current state subsidies. Under the initiative, the state will give eligible families up to $300 monthly per eligible child for full-time care and $150 monthly per child for part-time care.

The state will also give two new rounds of pandemic stabilization grants, including $2,000 for family child care providers. It will also provide pandemic stabilization grants ranging from $20,000 to $80,000 for licensed child care centers and summer youth camp grants in 2022 and 2023.

It will also provide $1,000 bonuses for child care workers starting this winter, a move that proponents say will help providers recruit and retain workers. The state will turn to the Child Care Revitalization Fund, a measure Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law that allocates $30 million to DHS.