Caring for Kids in Five Counties

The Rutgers Southern Regional Child Care Resource and Referral Agency serves thousands of South Jersey children and families.

This day care in Sewell is one of many assisted by the agency.

Lisa Cossabone wasn’t sure where to turn. A single mother with a young child, she needed to work to support herself and her daughter, but she needed day care in order to work. “Being a single parent can be very stressful,” said Cossabone, a resident of Folsom in Atlantic County who works as a physical therapist aide. “You have to work in order to provide.”

Fortunately, she was directed to the Rutgers Southern Regional Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, which helps families with small children find and pay for child care and early education opportunities in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties. The agency, administered by Rutgers University–Camden and funded by a state contract to help working parents and their children, helped Cossabone find child care for her daughter, who is now 11, and provided financial assistance that covered part of her costs. More recently, the agency helped her find and pay for child care for her 4-year-old nephew, whom she is adopting. “Their help has been the missing piece I needed,” Cossabone said, adding that the agency has been very responsive to her requests for guidance. “They are always there for you.”

Audrey Murray, a single mother in Cape May County, said the subsidy the agency provided helped her to pay for day care for her 4-year-old and allowed her to keep working. “Without it, my whole paycheck would have gone to day care,” said Murray, who works as a teacher’s aide. “It helps to put my mind at ease.”

Murray’s and Cossabone’s children are among thousands the agency helps each year. In the 12-month period from October 2017 through September 2018, the agency served a total of 12,319 children and disbursed more than $34 million in subsidies to pay for child care. The funds that help working parents pay for day care come from a grant from the federal Administration for Children and Families that is funneled through the New Jersey Department of Human Services to the agency.

The agency, which has more than 60 employees and an office in each of its five counties, also provides support, professional development training, and technical assistance to programs that care for children. Marianna Finamore, director of the agency, said the agency’s mission to support families and the child care providers is a critical one in the lives of young children. “It is proven that a child who receives quality, early childhood education grows to be a much more successful individual than a child who is not in a quality program,” Finamore said.

For more about the Rutgers Southern Regional Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, visit rusouthernccrr.org. For more about the statewide program and where to find child care, go to childcarenj.gov.

Posted in: 2019 Fall, Features

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