NJ health system closing on-site child care centers this fall

New Jersey’s largest healthcare provider confirmed on Friday that it will close child care operations at its facilities at the end of September, while a petition to overturn the decision has garnered thousands of supporters. signatures in about a day.

Stating in a statement that it is choosing to “focus our efforts on our primary mission of patient care,” Hackensack Meridian Health told New Jersey 101.5 that its child care centers are scheduled to close Sept. 30.

While saying the decision was made “after deliberate and careful consideration of all options,” HMH specifically cited staffing as a challenge.

“Hackensack Meridian Health will provide a six-month grant to affected team members. Additionally, the network has agreed to a discount with a major child care provider,” the statement said, although it does not identify the supplier at this time.

However, those provisions did not satisfy a Change.org user using the handle “HMH FORLIFE” who launched a petition on Thursday that had garnered more than 6,000 signatures by Friday evening.

“They are choosing money over family — and patient care,” the petition reads, calling the decision “completely unacceptable.”

Some of the petition signatories’ comments were even more pointed.

“My son went to daycare near my school and there are still teachers/caregivers there who took care of him when he was a baby. He is now 25!” wrote Jennifer Cotter.

“The reasons for the closure don’t make sense for several reasons,” said signee Emily Totaro.

One thing both parties agreed on is that the change does not reflect “the dedication and excellence of the child care teams,” which the petition said was a phrase included in a letter to employees.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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