ALL OF THIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED
More than 150,000 PA kids are going to lose their child care because the end of federal funds will force around 3,000 programs to close, leaving over 11,000 workers out of a job.
Governor Shapiro, all of this could have been avoided.
The story starts back in 2021 when the federal government shored up child care programs as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“When the pandemic first happened, the whole world shut down and then people realized, ‘Oh, we have to reopen childcare’ … So, we became essential workers,” said Damaris Alvarado-Rodriguez, director of the Children’s Playhouse early-childhood learning centers, in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article.
Thanks to that influx of federal dollars, the already financially stretched child care centers were able to stay open and let essential workers do their jobs.
Those federal funds end tomorrow. And the child care sector once again nears the edge of collapse.
We knew this was coming because child care providers have been very clear that they just can’t afford to pay competitive wages. It was tough even with the ARPA money; the average hourly wage for a child care teacher is $12.43/hour so many qualified staff are already going elsewhere to make more money in less demanding positions.
Without the ARPA dollars, it’s only going to get worse.
“The most difficult thing is we need more money to pay the teachers. We absolutely need more money, but you can only raise the tuition so high. Everything is so much more expensive,” said Joanne Drinkard, the owner of Aardvark Child Care for nearly 40 years, who was forced to close two locations in anticipation of the ARPA funding cliff.
Children First and our partners in the Start Strong PA coalition sounded the alarm a year ago specifically called on Governor Shapiro to avoid this crisis by putting state dollars for child care wages in his state budget. He didn’t. And now we’re on the brink.
Our only recourse is to continue to lobby Congress (see Advocate & Serve below) because they haven’t reached a budget agreement yet. We really need your help because it’s tough to cut through the noise around the political infighting and threat of a government shutdown.
It’s our only recourse to stop 150,000 kids from losing quality care and 11,000 workers from losing their jobs. Sadly, all of this could have been avoided.