The Importance of Investing in NJ's Families and Children
As part of our Right from the Start NJ series, Diane Dellanno, Policy Analyst, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, and Steve Adubato discuss the importance of investing in childcare for ages 0 to 3, NJ’s new Paid Family Leave Program and how Governor Murphy’s proposed budget could impact families with young children.
"There she is. Diane Dellanno. Who is, in fact, a policy analyst for a terrific organization called Advocates for Children of New Jersey. Good to see you. Hi! Thank you for having me. We've been working with your not-for-profit... our not-for-profit's working with your not-for-profit on an initiative called Right From the Start NJ. How would you describe it? Well, it's an initiative to really bring attention to the needs of infants and toddlers in our state, and to really make and strengthen services and policies around infants and toddlers. And your organization's been fighting this fight for a long time? Yes. Our organization itself has been around for about 40 years. We just celebrated our 40th anniversary actually last year. And for a little over a year, we've been working on the Right From the Start NJ campaign. Yeah. It is a campaign because it's about public awareness, it's also about... we are not involved in advocacy but in fact we're trying to let people understand some of the issues. And one of the first issues that we need to deal with is the Murphy budget. We don't know all the details? No. The particulars. But the governor has dedicated in his proposed budget 15 million dollars for what Diane? For child care. And that is huge. Normally we haven't seen any dollars dedicated strictly for child care services. So we're very excited to see that it has made it in the budget this year. Okay. Here's the question. You know, there are so many priorities in Trenton, in the state capital? Mm hmm. Right? When someone says, "Well, infants and toddlers, caregivers of infants and toddlers, it's a top priority." And someone else says, "Well what are you talking about? I don't have a kid that age. And..." Or, "My kids are older." Or, "I don't even have kids." Why is this everyone's issue? Well the first three years are the most critical part of development. That's where brain development really happens. And what happens in those first three years could really have a huge impact on their academic success. For example? Break that down a little bit. Well, that's where you learn speech. That's where you learn about relationships. It's where your brain takes in your whole environment. So we need to really make sure that everything that surrounds our babies, you know, is nurturing, caring, developmentally appropriate. Sure. So that they get off to the right start. So I'm curious about this. We've had this discussion offline, but I want to talk about it here Diane. Access to quality healthcare. It's a phrase..."