Passage of Stopgap Budget Demands Immediate, Robust Economic Stimulus to Preserve Capacity of Early Learning Sector

HARRISBURG (May 27, 2020)— The anticipated five-month stopgap state budget will preserve Pennsylvania’s current investment in publicly-funded, early learning programs. Under the proposed agreement, PA Pre-K Counts, Head Start State Supplemental, and state funding for child care and evidence-based home visiting services will remain level funded for at least the first five months of the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The principal partners of the Pre-K for PA, Start Strong PA, and Childhood Begins At Home advocacy campaigns issued the following statement regarding the proposed budget agreement:

“A level funded, five-month stopgap budget will preserve Pennsylvania’s fiscal commitment to core early learning services in Pennsylvania. During these extraordinary and uncertain times, this agreement shows a bipartisan commitment to our youngest learners and working families of Pennsylvania. However, level funding assumes that pre-COVID-19 child care / pre-k provider capacity will exist in the 2020-2021 fiscal year so that service delivery remains constant. Given the current reality, this may not be a fair assumption. In order for that to happen, stimulus funds must be immediately made available.

“Pennsylvania’s child care providers have incurred devastating losses over the past 2+ months of state mandated closure. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, these impossible to predict financial losses paired with uncertain future demand threaten to collapse the early learning system. Immediate and robust economic stimulus is also needed to ensure our high-quality programs survive to serve children and families in the new fiscal year.

“Governor Wolf and the PA General Assembly must enact a robust plan that provides financial stability for Pennsylvania’s child care providers by reimbursing them for lost subsidized child care co-pays and a portion of private tuition payments. Additionally, child care providers must be protected during the emergency period by granting them immunity from tort liability associated with claims related to COVID-19, and funding must be provided to secure necessary cleaning and PPE supplies needed for reopening pre-k and child care programs. We also must ensure that this year’s Pre-K Counts and Head Start students are ready for kindergarten by offering a one-month summer instruction program if it is safe for students and teachers to do so.

“To accomplish this, policymakers must immediately release the remaining $55 million in federal CARES Act child care funds and allocate an additional $142 million in federal stimulus or Commonwealth funds. Such action would better ensure child care / pre-k provider capacity in the 2020-2021 fiscal year and ready the early learning system for parent’s rapid return to work.

“Families also need support now more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, and voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs improve maternal health, child well-being and family self-sufficiency. Staying connected to home visiting services can be a lifeline for families sheltering-at-home, and we must continue to help home visitors get the flexibility and resources they need to deliver home visiting services now and in coming months. Additionally, we are calling for $100 million in federal stimulus funds currently being considered in the U.S. Senate as part of the latest version of stimulus legislation.

“Pennsylvania’s economy depends on working families and working families depend on high-quality child care and early learning!” 

Pre-K for PA was launched in 2014 with the vision that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. This statewide coalition’s leadership group includes: Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; First Up; Mission: Readiness; Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; Pennsylvania Head Start Association; Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; Public Citizens for Children and Youth; Trying Together; and the United Way of

 Start Strong PA launched in 2019 to support healthy child development, working families, and the economy by increasing access to and affordability of high-quality child care programs for young children. Learn more

Childhood Begins At Home is a statewide campaign to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting and support public investments in the programs.