Children and Youth meeting focuses on the state of child care and the impact of the pandemic

HARRISBURG, March 12 – State Rep. Pam DeLissio, minority chair of the House Children and Youth Committee, participated in a public hearing on Monday to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on working families and the state of child care across the commonwealth.

“Since the pandemic began, some child care facilities have closed and many people, especially women, have left the workforce to care for their young children,” said DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila. “This sector is vitally important to economic recovery and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to find ways to help child care providers recover economically.”

The committee heard from the Office of Child Development about financial relief and how federal dollars are awarded to child care facilities.

The Pennsylvania Child Care Association also testified and stressed that staff turnover and the inability to attract new hires continues to impact providers’ ability to operate efficiently. State subsidized child care rates have not been raised in years.

The committee also had the opportunity to hear about the Keystone STARS Program. Keystone STARS program supports all early care and education programs to improve program quality. The Keystone STARS Performance Standards function as a tool to support continuous quality improvement that impacts services to the children and families using child care in Pennsylvania, commented DeLissio.

All licensed child care centers that meet the state’s health and safety requirements automatically receive one STAR. Not all providers choose to participate in the program to garner additional STARS.

One child care director who is a STARS participant explained how the STARS program opens the door to additional state funding that a provider can use to invest in training and higher wages for staff. Another director provided a different perspective, stating that the providers that do not participate in the STARS program are not necessarily less qualified or providing a lesser quality of care.

DeLissio said there is a bipartisan proposal that is expected to be reintroduced this legislative session to require all state-licensed child care centers to post their Keystone STARS rating in a prominent location on their websites, in the entrance to their facilities, and on informational enrollment materials given to parents.