State Representative Michael Schlossberg and State Representative Peter Schweyer Tour Luv N Hugs Learning Center

Child Care Providers Struggle to Remain Open as the Workforce in Northeast PA Returns to Work

ALLENTOWN: (October 22, 2020) – Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA Campaign partner the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children hosted a virtual classroom tour at Luv N Hugs Learning Center in Allentown today describing the challenges COVID-19 has caused the child care industry.  State Representative Michael Schlossberg and State Representative Peter Schweyer participated in the tour and discussion.

Cereta Johnson, Owner/Director of Luv N Hugs offered a glimpse into the early learning center describing both visually and verbally how providers support our children, families, businesses, and are a critical component to our economic recovery. Joining her in the discussion were Sofia Estrella, Owner/Director of Elevation Learning Center, Betty Druckenmiller, Center Director of Volunteers of America and Cystal Lopez, Director of Kiddie City Learning Center.  The message was clear, the child care industry in northeast PA and across Pennsylvania immediately needs substantially more funding so that as the state reopens, they can stay open and our workforce can return to work.

“We have had to make changes to stay open – closing one pre-school classroom and reassigning teaching staff to virtual school support. We expected an increase in enrollments in September but that has yet to occur. Currently we are at about 65% enrollment. I do not feel that confident about whether we will still be here next September.” said Betty Druckenmiller, Director at Volunteers of America.

In a study on COVID-19’s impact on Pennsylvania’s child care sector, Penn State’s Director of Institute of State and Regional Affairs reports an estimated $325 million in new costs and lost revenues for PA providers since the economic shutdown.

“The financial impact, not only for PA child care providers but for the businesses that employ the families those child care providers serve will certainly result in more closures if additional funds do not materialize quickly. With this very real risk that providers across Pennsylvania will close, our state will not have the workforce to be able to effectively recover from this pandemic,” said Kim Early, Public Policy Director, Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children, who hosted the tour.

In the wake of COVID-related closures, the Pre-K for PA and Start Strong PA campaigns — representing tens of thousands of Pennsylvania families — have illustrated the urgent need for relief, as Pennsylvania’s child care providers have incurred devastating losses over the past 6+ months. Stabilizing the Commonwealth’s child care and early learning system is a necessary strategy supporting our overall economic recovery.

The Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA campaigns represent thousands of early learning providers and supporters across Pennsylvania. For more information visit www.startstrongpa.org and www.prekforpa.org.

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