Letter to the Editor: Pa. budget gets it right on Pre-K funding, but more must be done to avert crisis
I was relieved to see that the 2022-23 Pennsylvania state budget includes additional funding for child care and Pre-K.
My child care program has never had the staffing challenges we have today in the five years we have been in operation. While there are other businesses also struggling to recruit and retain staff, our industry supports the workforce of every other industry. If a family doesn’t have access to early care and education, they cannot work. And when families can’t work, businesses can’t hire.
We are struggling to recruit and retain staff because we are unable to compete with rising wages and benefits offered by companies requiring less specialized skills. With the average child care wage at less than $11 per hour, our teachers don’t have to look far to find higher pay and even benefits.
I am thankful that Pennsylvania lawmakers like state Rep. Mike Schlossberg prioritized federal resources to offer child care teachers a one-time bonus. The state budget also grew the availability of Pre-K to more eligible kids and increased Pre-K rates to help providers like me deal with historic inflation and rising wages.
If child care and Pre-K providers continue struggling to recruit and retain staff to keep classrooms open, more families are going to suffer. We need to continue investing in our early care and education system, paying teachers and providers adequately and ensuring that all kids have access to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Monae Rivera is director of Elevation Child Care Center in Allentown.
Read the Letter to the Editor here.