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Department of Human Services Thanks Child Care Providers, Stresses Importance of Gov. Wolf’s Proposed Plan for Direct Funding for Child Care and Other Essential Needs

05/13/2022

Erie, PA - Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead visited Little Acorns Learning Center to thank child care center staff and providers and to discuss the Wolf Administration’s proposal to provide direct funding to Pennsylvanians for child care and other essential needs.

Throughout the pandemic, child care centers and early childhood educators like the staff at Little Acorns have worked and continue to work tirelessly through the difficulties to offer families of all backgrounds and means an opportunity for quality, equitable child care. The ability for centers, like Little Acorns, to remain well staffed and open are crucial to the economy’s health and to child development for the current generation of young children.

“A thriving child care infrastructure 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 to a thriving workforce and our children’s futures,” said Acting Secretary Snead. “Early childhood education programs play a crucial role in kids’ growth and development. Child care workers make this early learning possible, and we must recognize the value of this work and continue to fortify this industry.”

Governor Wolf is seeking to directly invest in Pennsylvanians by using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide $2,000 grants to help individuals and families meet essential needs. These grants can help pay for child care, health care, housing, utilities, broadband, education and vocational training programs. As Pennsylvania and the nation continue economic recovery in a turbulent world, direct support to individuals and families will help Pennsylvanians maintain their individual wellbeing and contribute to their communities.

The Wolf Administration has also taken significant steps to support the child care industry through the COVID-19 crisis and will continue to do so. In the fall, 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. 

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.

Little Acorns Learning Center was established in 2016 and serves children who are six weeks through five years old. To better serve the growing number of families in need of child care, the center relocated from Waterford to Erie in 2021. The new location boasts individual playgrounds for each age group, higher quality staffing levels in the nursery classroom, and increased security. Little Acorns prides itself on attaining and maintaining STAR 4 quality ranking status and the ability to offer Pre-k Counts. The 15 teachers at Little Acorns Learning Center believe that social-emotional needs are the basis for all future learning and are the anchors in their classroom instruction.

“Child care is everyone’s issue. You may experience it when you are waiting in a long line at the doctor’s office or grocery store because an employer was not able to hire a candidate when they could not secure child care,” said Arlene McMahon, Director of Little Acorns Learning Center. “Early childhood teachers deserve the same wages and benefits as their peers in Head Start and school districts. They shape the minds of the littlest learners and lay the strongest foundation for all future learning. We are essential, not expendable.”

To find licensed child care programs operating in Pennsylvania visit www.findchildcare.pa.gov. Families who are having trouble finding a provider or who are lower income and need assistance paying for care can contact their local Early Learning Resource Center at www.raiseyourstar.org.

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

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