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In Pennsylvania today, 70 percent of all children under the age of six have all parents in the workforce. Because of this, affordable high-quality child care is a critical workforce support and a foundational investment in the Commonwealth’s youngest learners. When parents don’t have access to affordable, high-quality care they must choose between leaving their children in a less than ideal environment or opting out of the workforce entirely, potentially with greater reliance on other public benefits.
A report released this spring demonstrated that the shortage of high-quality infant and toddler child care in Pennsylvania costs employers, taxpayers, and working parents an astounding $2.5 billion per year!
There is a solution to this – the state’s Child Care Works program offers subsidized care for low income families to be able to afford high-quality child care. However, waitlists are long – over 7,000 children were waiting for a subsidy as of this July, with some children waiting 6 months or more! Start Strong PA estimates over 150,000 children were eligible but remained unserved last year.
While the recently passed FY ‘19-’20 state budget included an overall increase in child care funding due to growth in the federal budget, state investments were cut by $36 million and replaced with one-time federal funds.
The $36 million in state dollars could have served an additional 2,400 eligible, unserved infants and toddlers. It is critical that Pennsylvania restore and grow its state investments in high-quality child care to ensure a robust workforce and support working families.
The Columbia Montour Early Learning Investment Committee is working to increase awareness of the importance of high-quality child care and also increase the resources available to working families. Business, service providers and human service agencies have come together to identify long-term solutions and calls on our elected officials to put state funds back into child care in the next budget cycle.
The Columbia Montour Early Learning Investment Committee
Tammy Benscoter, First Columbia Bank & Trust
Jeffrey Emanuel, Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber
Fred Gaffney, Columbia Montour Chamber
Bryne Lewis, SEKISUI SPI
Adrienne Mael, United Way of Columbia and Montour County
Holly Morrison, Central Susquehanna Community Foundation
Candy Ryan, Bloomsburg University
Diana Verbeck, Danville Child Development Center
Cassie Weaver, Columbia Child Development Program