HARRISBURG, PA — Governor Tom Wolf announced the award of $15 million to expand access to high-quality, affordable child care to more than 900 infants and toddlers around Pennsylvania. The investment comes from the 2019-2020 budget, which included the $15 million investment in federal funds to expand access to high-quality care and reduce the subsidized child care waiting list.
“Investing in early education and the future of our youngest learners – and the future of our commonwealth – is a top priority for my administration,” said Gov. Wolf. “The first few years of a child’s life have a profound influence on brain development and growth. My administration continues to invest in early education to expand access to quality programs so children can have the opportunity to excel – helping children start school ready to become life-long learners.”
Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program, Child Care Works, helps families with incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guideline access high-quality child care through financial assistance. This supports the family’s ability to work and go to school while their children spend time in early learning environments that support their development and school readiness.
This investment supports eligible, low-income Pennsylvania families who have young children, specifically families with a parent or parents who are working or pursuing training opportunities, such as vocational or job-specific training, pursuing 2-year or 4-year post-secondary degree programs, internships, English as a second language programs, apprenticeships, and more.
This initiative is a part of Gov. Wolf’s Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP) that seeks to support working Pennsylvanians through expanded opportunities for workforce development, skills training, and supports like child care that helps Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement.
Funding will be distributed through the Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs) around Pennsylvania for STAR 3 and 4 programs. Adding more infant and toddler slots will reduce the time infants and toddlers spend on the Child Care Works waiting lists and ensures providers have the resources, supports, and fiscal stability to achieve and maintain high-quality services. It also strengthens and maintains continuity of care for infants and toddlers in STAR 3 and 4 programs with a seamless transition to existing pre-kindergarten slots within those same programs.
“The cost of child care and access to early learning programs can be a significant barrier for low-income families – often limiting their ability to go to work knowing their children are safe and cared for,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “By investing in child care opportunities, parents can confidently enter the workforce knowing their child is receiving high-quality care and early learning support. Access to care also creates lifelong impacts to break down the intergenerational cycle of poverty for the future of families across the commonwealth for years to come.”
Education is a top priority for Gov. Wolf. In addition to the $15 million in federal funds to reduce waiting lists for high-quality child care, the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget provides $5 million to expand home-visiting programs for pregnant women and at-risk infants and toddlers, and $5 million for wrap-around services so parents can attend college or other training to get skills for family-sustaining jobs. The budget also provided $30 million to expand Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.
For more information on child care and early child development opportunities in Pennsylvania, visit www.findchildcare.pa.gov.
Source: Pennsylvanian Department of Education
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