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 2023-2024

PennAEYC’s vision is that each and every Pennsylvania family 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 campaign and coalition partners and NAEYC’s strategic direction.

Current Landscape

The State of Child Care in PA

As Pennsylvania bounces back and navigates living with COVID-19, the child care system continues to experience a severe staffing shortage with parents unable to find care. According to a March 2022 Start Strong PA survey of nearly 1,000 child care programs:

  • Nearly 32,500 children sat on waiting lists.
  • More than 30,000 additional children could have been served at respondents’ sites if they were fully staffed.
  • 91% of respondents reported staffing shortages.
  • 48% of respondents have closed at least one classroom.

Low wages are the most significant factor driving the child care staffing crisis. According to the most current wage data for Pennsylvania, the median wage in 2019 for child care workers was only $10.69/hour and $13.96/hour for preschool teachers. This leaves nearly 50% of the workforce being eligible for public benefits. Child care providers cannot afford to pay child care workers more, parents cannot afford to pay a higher price for child care and child care workers cannot afford to stay in the field.

One-time American Rescue Plan Act relief available through September 2024 continues to help programs stay open and families afford child care. Unfortunately, the federal Build Back Better proposal, which included significant and sustainable child care and pre-k funding, did not pass into law. In order to build a stronger, more equitable early childhood care and education system greater investments at the federal and state levels must be made. Without substantial and sustainable investments, child care programs will continue to face these challenges that burden families and the professionals that serve them.

2022 General Election Impact

The November 2022 General Election was a significant one which will bring great change in the policymakers with which we work. In addition to a new U.S. Senator and gubernatorial administration, there are a significant number of incumbents leaving the General Assembly as a result of retirements and primary election losses. Those leaving unfortunately include key champions. Education of these new policymakers and their staff will be incredibly important to increase state investments and make positive policy change in early childhood care and education.

PennAEYC will continue its advocacy and will work to achieve the following six public policy goals:

  1. Increase equitable access to developmentally appropriate, high-quality, affordable child care, particularly for each and every infant and toddler
  2. Improve compensation and professional supports for early childhood professionals
  3. Increase access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs
  4. Implement the Infant/Toddler (Part C) Early Intervention Statewide Advocacy Agenda
  5. Advance policies that support Pennsylvania in reaching an equitable early care and education system
  6. Support high-quality experiences in early childhood care and education programs and school districts for children through grade four

Download our full public policy and legislative agenda to learn more PennAEYC Public Policy Agenda 2023-2024 - FINAL