House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody Tours
Riverview Children’s Center

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

VERONA, PA: (October 6, 2020) – Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA Campaign partner Trying Together hosted a virtual classroom tour at Riverview Children’s Center in Verona, PA today describing the challenges COVID-19 has caused the child care industry. House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody participated in the tour and discussion.

“Our future situation is very tenuous. The center’s enrollment prior to the pandemic was 150 children.  After closing in March, we reopened June 15th with only 50 children and have now enrolled around 100. In addition to loss in revenue and increased expenses, we are experiencing significant staffing challenges,” said Betty Lisowski, Executive Director, Riverview Children’s Center. “Being open during COVID and following strict CDC guidance to keep all as safe as possible is expensive, exhausting, and uncertain. We have been flexible to the point of breaking.”

Lisowski 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. The child care industry in southwest 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.

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.

“Without child care, economic recovery is impossible” said Cara Ciminillo, Executive Director, Trying Together, who hosted the tour. “Prior to the pandemic, 70% of PA children under the age of six had all adults in their household in the workforce.  Those adults need child care to return to work.”

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.