Throughout the pandemic, Pennsylvania’s child care providers have not only had to navigate how to keep children and staff safe within their doors, but how to keep their doors open altogether in the face of budget and staffing shortfalls.
In a press conference held at the Harrisburg JCC last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead announced a plan to distribute $655 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to stabilize Pennsylvania’s child care industry.
“As if the public health issues are not enough, we are facing significant staffing shortages like other childcare centers across the state and the nation,” Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg President/CEO Jenn Ross said. “Our waitlists remain full because we don’t have enough teachers.”
Jenn said that while the Brenner Family Early Learning Center’s starting pay rate is higher than average for area teachers, it is still difficult to secure enough staffing. She hopes that the new funds will help.
“We are grateful for the public dollars our early learning center has already received and relieved to learn of these additional funds,” she said.
According to a press release from the Department of Human Services, child care providers will have the discretion to use the funds for personnel costs, operational costs, health and safety costs (such as personal protective equipment), and many other needs.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Pennsylvania’s child care industry – from increased expenses and decreased demand early in the pandemic to the current challenges of staffing shortages and waiting lists for families that need affordable child care to get back to work,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “Our goal with this funding distribution is to offset those challenges and create a pathway for recovery from this pandemic – not just for child care, but for our economy as a whole.”