Budget Proposal “Maintains” Child Care System in Crisis
Governor Shapiro's budget address today correctly emphasized the importance of high-quality child care for working families and the need to boost child care wages to get “more teachers and professionals on the job,” and eliminate growing wait lists.
Unfortunately, the Administration's $66.7 million proposal merely maintains a system already in crisis.
The proposal continues subsidized child care access to 75,000 low-income working families and sustains Child Care Works reimbursements to meet or exceed base rates at the 60th percentile of the market rate for a child care provider’s region. This represents a continuation of the current child care operating environment that has been in place since January 2022 after utilizing one-time federal funds to boost rates.
Since that time, conditions within the system have not improved, in fact, wait lists have increased.
According to the February 2023 Staffing Crisis Survey responses from over 1,100 early care and education providers across Pennsylvania, PA’s child care system is experiencing a 4,000 person workforce shortfall resulting in more than 35,500 children sitting on child care wait lists making it difficult for parents to work.
The average child care teacher earns less than $12.50/hr. with approximately 21 percent of those child care teachers relying on SNAP benefits and 21 percent insured by Medicaid. As many of these staff are college educated, it’s no surprise that nearly 50 percent of educators surveyed say they are unlikely to remain in their child care jobs.
Reaction from members of The Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA Provider Advisory Board
"We need a sustainable funding solution. The grants were great but only a shot in the arm. We need to compensate ECE professionals as professionals. By not supporting wages you are telling the ECE community that they are not valued or essential."
"Without an increase in wages the industry cannot hire high-quality teachers. It is impossible without additional sources of funding to meet the four basic goals of my program: high quality, fair pay, meeting the needs of ALL children and a fair profit to sustain my business."
"Available, accessible child care is the backbone of strong, thriving communities and this is only possible if we can recruit and retain a skilled workforce."
Start Strong PA partners are urging the PA House and Senate to build on what’s been proposed by Governor Shapiro and not simply maintain a system that is currently in crisis but invest more, prioritizing the sector’s workforce to get ahead of this staffing shortage. Without a direct investment in the child care sector’s workforce, this crisis will continue and is likely to mean that more classrooms will close and more working parents will struggle to find care for their children.
Stay tuned for more information on how we can work together to advocate for increasing funding for the child care workforce!