Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows – Jun 9, 2023



It’s not often that child advocates and one Chamber of Commerce – let alone 55 of them – stand side-by-side on an issue. But the crisis in child care is so severe that unusual partners are joining forces to urge lawmakers to take action.

With the lack of child care costing PA $6.65 billion a year in lost productivity, business leaders are lending their voice (and their influence) to the fight for child care dollars.

Fifty-five county chambers of commerce signed a joint letter to Governor Shapiro and legislative leadership, calling for a solution to the high costs and dwindling supply of child care. The letter opens with, “We have heard from our member-employers from across the Commonwealth how the lack of accessible and affordable childcare is hampering their ability to hire because potential workers can either not find childcare or afford it.”

Parents, business leaders, and Republican and Democratic legislators stood with us in the Capitol Rotunda this week, calling for a major state investment in the child care sector.

Stephanie Vaughan, a full-time worker in sales, business owner, AND Lehigh Valley mother of two, echoed his sentiments. “We love our children, but this has real effects on our jobs, our mental health and businesses that we own. Teachers need to be appropriately incentivized to continue working. Today I’m here to ask that we invest in our kids by investing in our child care workers.”

“Every person in our workforce in the Greater Susquehanna Valley has someone, maybe even a lot of ‘someone’s,’ whose job is to make sure that they can go to and stay at work. Not all of us depend on childcare, but we all depend on someone who makes it possible to have and to keep our job,” said speaker Bob Garrett, CEO, Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber.

To fill the 4,000 job openings in the early childhood sector – and serve the 38,000 children currently on waiting lists – will take a $430 million investment. Governor Shapiro’s budget only added $66.7 million. Fortunately, the House upped the ante by $45 million for a total of $111.7 million. Now the Senate must take up the mantle for the sake of the state’s economy and build on the House’s increase. 

With the end of the fiscal year just weeks away, it is critical that state legislators hear from us. Click below to sign the statewide petition calling for additional funding to stop the classroom and program closures that are preventing tens of thousands of families from accessing the care they need for their child in order to work.


(In case there’s any question whether citizen advocacy works, just look at what happened in Philadelphia. We rallied parents and early childhood education advocates to call for more slots in the city’s public pre-k program and SUCCESS! The budget passed by City Council included millions of dollars for PHLpreK, which will allow over 1,000 additional kids to get a free early education.)

Too many children and teens forced to live in institutions are bullied, beaten up, and sexually assaulted by the adults in charge. Sadly, there’s no safe place for them to go to get help and protection. 

Tell your lawmaker to create a state Office of Child Advocate by supporting HB 813.

“If people are taking [Black history] out of schools, it’s making the ignorance go on, because they’re not understanding the pain and agony we have to go through.”

– Harmony, a 16 year-old student on the impact of erasing LGBTQ and racial justice from public school curricula

Join the online Children at Risk Immigration Summit on June 22 to explore how the evolving immigration policy landscape impacts children. Children First Executive Director, Donna Cooper, is one of the featured speakers.

Register here https://bit.ly/3ox7ijZ

A stronger effort must be made to make lead
testing available for all children.”

– Republican Senator Lisa Baker, sponsor of
SB 514 that would to require every PA child
be tested for lead poisoning at least once before
turning two years-old. The legislation passed
committee and is awaiting a full vote by the Senate.