PennAEYC’s state and federal public policy agenda is focused on ensuring high-quality early care and education opportunities for Pennsylvania’s youngest children and supporting the early care and education workforce.
PennAEYC's Public Policy and Legislative Agenda 2022
PennAEYC’s vision is that all Pennsylvania families will have access to high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education opportunities for their children provided by a profession that is valued, well-compensated and supported. Primary attention is devoted to expanding access to high-quality early childhood care and education programs for young children and appropriate compensation and support for the professionals and programs which provide these services. Our public policy and legislative agenda outlines goals for funding increases, as well as changes in policy and practice and regulation and law at the state and federal levels. We will achieve our goals through existing and new partnerships at the local, state and federal levels, including our chapters and membership, state advocacy partners and NAEYC.
Impact of COVID-19 and the Build Back Better Act
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to highlight the vital role that child care plays in the lives of children, working families and our economy. The child care system, which was fragile prior to the crisis and was brought to its breaking point as a result of the pandemic, is now experiencing a severe staffing shortage. According to a September 2021 Start Strong PA survey of over 1,100 child care programs:
- Nearly 26,000 children currently sat on waiting lists.
- More than 34,000 additional children could have been served at respondents’ sites if they were fully staffed.
- 92% of respondents reported staffing shortages.
- 51% of respondents had closed at least one classroom.
The federal pandemic relief, which was intended to stabilize programs, helped many, however further investment at the federal and state level will be key in our economic recovery and building a stronger, more equitable early childhood care and education system. PennAEYC, as a principal partner of the Start Strong PA advocacy campaign, was successful in advocating at the federal and state levels for investments and policy recommendations to help stabilize the child care sector and prevent the closure of programs, particularly high-quality programs serving subsidized children. Yet substantial and sustainable federal and state investments are needed to meet the long term needs of Pennsylvania children and families and the programs and professionals that serve them.
In addition, the Build Back Better plan includes the substantial, long-term funding commitment to develop a high-quality birth to five early childhood care and education system that supports child and family needs and also appropriately compensates and supports teachers and programs. This plan was currently under consideration as this policy agenda was under development. Should it pass, PennAEYC will work to ensure Pennsylvania opts into the child care and pre-k programs and will assess how our policy goals and current programming in Pennsylvania need to be adaptable to implement this incredible opportunity.
Due to the continued pandemic and the potential for substantial, long-term funding from the federal government, our agenda was developed for a one-year time period to allow us to be nimble in responding to the sector’s immediate needs.
PennAEYC will work to achieve the following five public policy goals:
- Increase access to equitable, high-quality, affordable child care for infants and toddlers
- Improve compensation and professional supports for the early childhood professionals
- Increase access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs
- Develop an Early Intervention Policy Agenda and Advocacy Strategy
- Support high-quality experiences in early childhood care and education programs and school districts for children through grade four.