The Numbers Don’t Lie
Employers are hanging the “Help Wanted” signs, but potential employees need some help themselves first.
A huge reason why employers are finding it so hard to hire new workers is the severe shortage of child care. Thousands of parents of young children hoping to go to work or increase their hours are stymied by the lack of affordable child care.
The state’s child care waiting list swells daily as centers close classrooms because what the state pays for the care is far short of what’s needed to hire qualified staff. And child care providers could meet the needs of these families and many more children if only they could afford to compete with the big box stores and hire staff.
Here’s what we’re hearing from child care providers:
- Nearly 26,000 children currently sit on child care waiting lists.
- More than 34,000 children could get care if centers were fully staffed.
- Nine out of 10 providers have staffing shortages.
- Half of providers have closed at least one classroom.
- Over the last 18 months, more than 850 Pennsylvania providers have closed permanently and another 350 have temporarily closed.
This startling data comes from a new statewide survey by Start Strong PA. The survey of 1,163 Pennsylvania child care programs across 63 counties shows that providers are being forced to turn away tens of thousands of little kids from care because of staffing shortages.
Take it from us – employers are noticing. “The current child care crisis poses a real threat to Pennsylvania’s economic recovery,” said Minesh V. Pathak, Executive Director of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce. “Staffing shortages among child care programs cause staffing shortages in all other economic sectors. Efforts to strengthen and stabilize the child care industry will benefit the overall economy.”
Just yesterday the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) threw a lifeline to providers letting them know what to expect from soon-to-be-released American Rescue Plan Act Stabilization Grants. If providers can be assured of future cash flow, they can start making investments in new staff and open up new spaces for our youngest learners, but the funds are temporary and this crisis is permanent.
Congress is currently considering an historic package that would include $450 billion of recurring funding that would build on child care relief funds and make long-term investments in quality child care and pre-k that are necessary for children to thrive, families to work, and our economy to rebuild.
Check out the statewide survey results here and download the county factsheets to see how your area fares. And then take action below to urge your Congressmembers to support sustained federal child care funding.