PA Governor's Budget for Early Education Leaves Child Care Providers Waiting Again
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Feb. 9, 2016 - PRLog -- Governor Wolf's proposed budget for early childhood continues to leave child care providers struggling to meet their basic operating needs with child care subsidy reimbursement rates that have not increased in nearly 10 years.
"What other industry contracting with Pennsylvania's Government is paid at rates nearly 10 years old?" asks Diane Barber, Director of the Pennsylvania Child Care Association. "The availability of affordable, high quality child care is crucial for all families in Pennsylvania. However, low reimbursement rates are driving high-quality child care programs that care for children from low-income, working families out of business. In the last year, we have had 27 members close their programs."
"Providers are in a tough position. They cannot charge parents the true cost of care; parents simply cannot afford it. As a result, providers are forced to offer artificially low teacher salaries, causing high turnover and affecting quality," notes Barber.
Child care subsidy reimbursement rates are the amount a child care provider receives from the PA Department of Human Services (DHS) to care for eligible children from low-income families.
Nearly all of PACCA's members providing child care accept children receiving subsidies. While child care rates were last increased in 2007, over 54% of child care providers are reimbursed at even lower rates as a result of freeze that was instituted under the Rendell Administration and continues today.
The Governor has proposed $12 million to remove an additional 2,247 children off the child care waiting lists. PACCA realizes that there are thousands of families waiting to receive child care assistance. However, when rates are lowered or stagnate, it is nearly impossible for child care providers to offer quality — or even adequate care to children. To sacrifice quality for quantity does a disservice to all children in child care.
Not only should child care subsidy reimbursement rates provide funding for child care that meets basic requirements, rates should be sufficient to pay for quality child care. Our quality initiatives, such as Keystone STARS, should be stand-alone incentives and not supplements to insufficient rates. If Pennsylvania is serious about improving the quality of care that children receive, that commitment needs to be reflected in child care subsidy reimbursement rates.
The Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) is a statewide 501c3 non-profit organization. PACCA’s members operate nearly 1,800 regulated child care programs, employ over 20,000 staff members and care for over 200,000 children aged infant through school-age each day. PACCA exists to be a strong and effective voice for quality early care and education (ECE) programs, and to give leadership and support to those organizations that assist the ECE community, families, and children in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Diane P. Barber
Pennsylvania Child Care Association
Page Updated Last on: Feb 09, 2016