Our commonwealth needs to make further investments and improve policies for the children and families served in the early care and education system. Read below for updates and information about Pennsylvania-focused policy and advocacy.
Governor Shapiro's Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2024-25
Read the Early Learning PA Coalition press release here.
State Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24
The 2023-24 state budget legislation, House Bill 611, was signed by Gov. Shapiro on August 3, 2023 and provides the following for early childhood care and education.
House Bill 611 level-funds PA Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. Flat funding means no expansion of access and that the inadequate reimbursement rates for these programs will not increase, prohibiting programs from addressing the recruitment and retention challenges they face. In addition, this is occurring as the entire Pre-K Counts program is being rebid. Please know that we have advocated to maintain -- to the greatest degree possible -- the current county slot allocations to ensure stability in access for children as all counties continue to have unmet needs.
The 2023-24 state enacted budget provides an increase of $90,377,000 in the Child Care Services line and $13,370,000 in the Child Care Assistance line, both under the Department of Human Services (DHS). This slightly more than $100 million will maintain the status quo in the sector in terms of child care subsidy utilization and subsidy rates increased through one-time federal stimulus funding. While certainly needed, this funding does not stabilize the child care workforce and funds specifically to increase wages are needed to recruit and retain child care teachers and staff.
Infant/Toddler Early Intervention (Part C) received an increase of $15.4 million under DHS to serve more children and sustain a rate increase that was achieved through one-time federal stimulus funding. This is less than Gov. Shapiro’s original budget proposal and we are disappointed more was not done to support the program more holistically, including solutions to address workforce shortages. Early Intervention (Part B) under the Department of Education for 3-5-year-olds received an increase of $10.4 million to serve more children.
Evidenced-Based Home Visiting
The Community-Based Family Centers line item was level funded. The Nurse Family Partnership received a $25,000 increase, which is a technical adjustment from previously enhanced federal matching funds.
Read the Early Learning PA Coalition press release here
State Budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24 Finalized
The final pieces of the 2023-24 state budget were finalized in December with the passage of Public School Code bills and the Fiscal Code. SB 843 was signed by the Governor and it includes additional language in the Public School Code related to Pre-K Counts, which accomplishes the following related to reporting:
- Requires the Department of Education (PDE), to amend their systems no later than March 31, 2024 to collect the required data.
- Beginning April 1, 2024, approved providers must submit to PDE information on an eligible student enrolled in a Pre-K Counts slot within 15 days of enrollment and removal of enrollment.
- Beginning in January 2024 and each quarter thereafter, the Secretary of PDE and the Deputy Secretary for OCDEL must report, in person, to the chairs of the Appropriations Committee on enrollment and any information related to Pre-K Counts.
- Beginning July 31, 2024 and each quarter thereafter, PDE shall report to the chairs of the Appropriation Committees:
- The total number of eligible students enrolled in a Pre-K Counts slot for each approved provider organized by month in the previous quarter.
- The number of eligible students newly enrolled in a Pre-K Counts slot for each approved provider organized by month in the previous quarter.
- The number of eligible students removed from enrollment in a Pre-K Counts slot for each approved provider organized by month in the previous quarter.
- The number of eligible students enrolled for 90% of the month in a Pre-K Counts slot for each approved provider organized by month in the previous quarter.
- The number of total funded slots for each approved provider by each month in the previous quarter.
- A listing by county of the total number of requested Pre-K Counts slots for students from eligible providers in the county and the total number of slots approved for all approved providers in the county for the current fiscal year.
The Fiscal Code (HB 1300) was signed by the Governor and includes:
- $25 million to maintain the child care subsidy exit income increase to 300% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines or 85% of the State Median Income; and
- Expansion of the PA Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit Program. In tax year 2022 the credit is equal to 30% of eligible expenses up to a maximum of $3,000 for an individual and $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals. For tax year 2023 it increases the credit equal to 100% of eligible expenses up to a maximum of $3,000 for an individual and $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals. The Department of Revenue must report annually to the General Assembly on the number of tax credits approved and the amount of tax credits approved, claimed and refunded through the program.
Building a Financially-Stable, High-
Quality Child Care System for Pennsylvania’s Children and Families: Improving Subsidized Child Care Rate Setting
Read the full report here Improving Subsidized Child Care Rate Setting - 2-2023 Web
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Recommendations for Infant and Toddler Contracts in Pennsylvania: A Model to Strengthen and Stabilize the Child Care System
PennAEYC, Children First, Trying Together and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children released recommendations for Pennsylvania related to infant and toddler contracted slots to expand and improve the program. Pennsylvania is well poised to expand contracts for infants and toddlers based on the Infant and Contracted Slots Pilot and can serve as a model for strengthening and stabilizing the child care system. These recommendations highlight the policy goals for the expansion of contract-based slots for infants and toddlers and offers well-researched financing and monitoring recommendations to ensure accountability for the system and use of public dollars. Lastly, the recommendations include ways to strengthen equity in a contracts-based model to ensure funding reaches all Early Learning Resource Center regions.
Statewide Advocacy Agenda to Improve Part C Early Intervention Services for Pennsylvania
PennAEYC and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children released a comprehensive report, Statewide Advocacy Agenda to Improve Part C Early Intervention Services for Pennsylvania, which reviewed the data and current practices in Pennsylvania’s system. There are five core recommendations:
- Serving all children who can benefit from Part C EI through outreach, referral, enrollment
- Ensuring Part C EI services offer the quality needed to make a difference
- Achieving equitable access in Part C EI
- Addressing mental health needs of infants and toddlers in Part C EI
- Partnering with Medicaid to improve Part C EI