Harrisburg, PA (STL.News) Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf today announced allocation plans for more than $303 million in federal funds received to support child care providers. The funds come from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA), signed into law in December and continue support for an industry that is both a cornerstone of Pennsylvania’s economy and a critical introduction to early education for children across Pennsylvania.
“Child care providers across our commonwealth have endured a year of challenges and changes – circumstances that have made doing business incredibly challenging,” said Gov. Wolf. “A healthy, vibrant child care industry is a necessity to help our economy recover and support parents returning to work. We must remember this as we move forward and continue support for child care providers as they care for young Pennsylvanians and allow parents to work so our communities and economy can thrive.”
The funding will be issued beginning April 20, 2021 and will be divided to support child care providers through multiple channels, including:
- $140.7 million to support child care providers experiencing reduced enrollments. Providers are still seeing a slower return to child care due to parents working remotely or not currently working and apprehension related to the virus. In addition, providers face increased operational costs related to safety and sanitization procedures necessary to keep staff, children in care, and their families safe from COVID-19. Funds will be allocated based on provider type and maximum licensed capacity, assuming that centers are operating with approximately a 32 percent enrollment reduction. A one-time sum will be issued based on $155 per week per child and adjusted based on an efficiency factor for each provider category multiplied by 10 weeks.
- $64.6 million to help child care providers continue to account for increased costs in order to operate safely. The Office of Child Development and Early Learning’s study on the impact of COVID-19 on Pennsylvania child care providers conducted by Penn State Harrisburg found that providers are spending, on average, approximately $22 a week per child extra on cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment necessary to operate safely. Funds will based on provider type and the lower limit of licensed capacity count, with a cap of 100 children, multiplied by 10 weeks.
- $87.17 million to support increased, regionalized base payment rates for child care providers participating in subsidized child care. Last month, Governor Wolf announced an increase in base reimbursement rates for child care providers who participate in the Child Care Works (CCW) subsidized child care program. This funding will help support the increase.
$3 million to expand the number of child care professionals who can receive pandemic relief awards to an additional 5,000 people. In January, Governor Wolf announced that OCDEL’s quality awards would be distributed more broadly this year in recognition of the ongoing economic insecurity. These awards were originally expected to provide $600 to more than 33,000 qualifying child care employees. The additional funding will allow another 5,000 employees to receive the award and funds all applications.
Additionally, $984,000 will provide an administrative rate increase to Early Learning Resource Centers, OCDEL’s regional partners that administer CCW and distribute federal stimulus support to providers at the local level. About $7 million is reserved in case temporarily closed providers choose to reopen, which would then qualify them for support.
“Our child care industry has displayed incredible resiliency over the last year, but we know that has not been easy,” said Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “Child care and early education is foundational to a child’s development, and as a working parent, I know how much it means to families. We are committed to helping our child care industry weather this difficult period, and I am incredibly grateful for their dedication to our children and families.”
These investments build off approximately $220 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding allocated in 2020 to support child care providers across Pennsylvania since the COVID-19 crisis began in Pennsylvania. These investments support this critical educational and economic infrastructure for children and families across the commonwealth.