York Day Nursery Hosts U.S. Senator Bob Casey
Updated: Sep 24, 2021
Focus: Federal funds desperately needed to stabilize and strengthen
PA’s child care system
YORK (8/25/2021) Today, York hosted U.S. Senator Bob Casey to discuss the continued challenges facing the commonwealth’s child care sector struggling to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on working families and the overall economy.
Participants discussed the current critical staffing shortage within the child care sector and its impact on system capacity. A new nationwide survey of 7,500 early childhood educators from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), found that 4 out of every 5 respondents from child care centers have staffing shortages and 15% report major shortages of 6-15 fewer workers than needed. Low wages were identified by 78% of respondents as the main obstacle to the recruitment of educators and 81% said insufficient pay is the main reason educators are leaving the field.
In Pennsylvania, the story is the same. Of the 306 Pennsylvania respondents, 67% are child care centers and 20% are family child care homes. The results indicate that 79% of child care centers are experiencing a staffing shortage. Of those experiencing shortages, 60% of programs are serving fewer children. PA respondents identified low wages as the main recruitment challenge (78%). The state’s median wage in 2019 for child care workers was only $10.69/hour and $13.96 for preschool teachers.
“Child care program staffing challenges directly inhibit families’ ability to get back to work and Pennsylvania’s economy to recover as a result of the lack of affordable child care and long waiting lists. Making a substantial investment in the early care and education sector similar to what is included in the American Families and Jobs Plans as well as Senator Casey’s 5 Freedoms agenda would be a big step in the right direction,” commented Diane Barber, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Child Care Association. “Child care programs need additional recurring funding to address affordability, quality, and infrastructure. The infrastructure they lack most significantly right now is staff.”
"There's a great need for highly qualified child care professionals in York County and York Day Nursery remains dedicated to recruiting and retaining the best teachers so our children receive the high-quality early childhood education they deserve," said Brian Grimm, President and CEO of York Day Nursery. "Thanks to generous private and public funding, we’ve recently increased all teacher wages to $15/hour with benefits like discounted child care for their families. We're also working to expand the pipeline of early childhood teachers – a challenging project in an economy where most teachers don’t make a living wage.”
As part of the visit, Senator Casey promoted his 5 Freedoms for America’s Children Plan. One of the plan’s 5 freedoms is the freedom to learn, emphasizing the need for increased funding in child care.
The child care sector was in crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic, with families unable to find and afford quality care, poverty-level wages for early childhood educators, and razor-thin margins for providers. The child care sector has been pushed to the brink of collapse by the pandemic. Federal relief over the last year has helped many providers; however, between March 2020 and August 2021, more than 850 Pennsylvania providers have permanently closed and 350 temporarily closed further impacting available child care options for families.
Participants stressed the urgency for additional funding highlighting how the lack of quality, affordable child care is negatively impacting Pennsylvania’s recovery from the pandemic’s economic devastation. The high cost and limited supply of child care options have forced working families to rely on inconsistent or unsafe care options, or even reduce their work hours or leave the workforce altogether. High-quality child care also develops the academic, social, and emotional skills critical for a child’s success in school.
About York Day Nursery
York Day Nursery, a 501(3)c non-profit located in York, PA is York’s longest operating child care center. York Day Nursery is proud to be awarded National Accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It holds a 4 STAR status, the highest performance level available under the PA Keystone STARS Child Care Quality Initiative. Established in 1932 by Ms. Netta Ford to support working families and children during the Great Depression, York Day Nursery continues its mission to create great beginnings and bright futures for the children of York County. For more information, visit YorkDayNursery.org.
The Pennsylvania Child Care Association is a statewide non-profit, membership organization. For more than 40 years, PACCA has served as a resource and clearinghouse of information for practitioners, agencies, press, legislators and the general public. Founded in 1973, PACCA has helped to inform, update and represent child care providers on existing and changing laws, regulations, policies and developmental research relating to early education and child care.
About Start Strong PA Start Strong PA is an initiative of Early Learning PA. Through a statewide collaboration of partners, Start Strong PA aims to support healthy child development, working families, and the economy by increasing access to and affordability of high-quality child care programs for young children. Learn more at www.startstrongpa.org.