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Acting Human Services Secretary Visits with Johnstown Child Care Center, Reinforces Commitment to Supporting Providers and Educators Through Economic Recovery

01/12/2022

Johnstown, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead visited the Learning Lamp in Johnstown to discuss the Wolf Administration’s commitment to supporting the child care industry during the pandemic and thank child care workers for their service to Pennsylvania’s children and working families during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Early childhood education providers are the backbone of what I call our caring workforce, the people who make up the fabric of our social safety net. For those of us with young children, we depend on our early childhood education providers to keep our kids safe and facilitate positive, healthy development. Because of child care and early learning providers who kept their doors open, essential workers had the peace of mind to know their children were safe while they staffed hospitals like Memorial Medical Center,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “A thriving child care industry is foundational to the rest of our economy, and this industry and the dedicated educators who show up every day to help our children grow are essential for our recovery from this pandemic.”

The Wolf Administration has taken significant steps to support the child care industry through the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to do so. DHS announced its plan to distribute $655 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to stabilize Pennsylvania’s child care industry. Licensed child care providers are invited to submit applications for one-time grant funding that represents an unprecedented investment in the child care industry and its dedicated workforce. This grant funding can be used to cover expenses, support staff, and provide support to this critical industry that continues to be challenged by the pandemic. To date, $596 million has been committed, reaching approximately 88 percent of licensed child care providers across Pennsylvania.

Additionally, $352 million in Child Care Development Fund funding from the American Rescue Plan Act is being invested in Pennsylvania’s Child Care Works (CCW) subsidized child care program, targeting decreased costs to families, greater support for child care providers participating in the program, and setting incentives for providers who expand care availability beyond traditional hours.

“The Learning Lamp Center for Children at Memorial Medical Center is a critical resource for hospital employees. The center was started more than 10 years ago as a strategy for the hospital to address the child care needs of their staff. The center serves 88 children and has remained open throughout the pandemic, with safety measures in place. This center ensures our health care heroes and other first responders have child care so they can go to work,” said Dr. Leah Spangler, president and CEO of The Learning Lamp.

The early child care education industry currently faces a multitude of challenges, many of which stem from the COVID-19 pandemic. Child care providers have experienced increased costs in order to maintain safe care, staffing challenges, and disruptions in service. These issues strain providers and directly impact not only the parents and guardians who depend on child care to continue working, but also the children who benefit from the care and education child care centers provide. Underserved communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic on multiple fronts, including the ability to find and afford child care.

“The historic investments we are able to make to our child care industry because of the American Rescue Plan Act will help us stabilize this industry so it can continue to be there for children and families as we move forward, but we must continue this investment moving forward,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “Child care and early learning educators and providers have stood by Pennsylvania families throughout this pandemic, and we must stand with them throughout this economic recovery.”

Licensed child care providers are invited apply for funding through January 31, 2022.  More information on the grant funding and how to apply can be found here.

For more information on child care providers operating during the COVID-19 public health crisis, visit www.findchildcare.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brandon Cwalina - ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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