$655 million in Rescue Plan funds provided to Pennsylvania's struggling child care sector

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Pennsylvania has been allocated $655 million under the American Rescue Plan to assist child care providers.

Democratic Pennsylvania state Rep. Christopher Sainato announced on April 7 that 20 child care providers in Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District, which he represents, would receive nearly $2.3 million in funding allocated under the American Rescue Plan. "The pandemic hit child care providers hard, and many struggled to meet payroll, rent, and other obligations as widescale prolonged shutdowns and plunging enrollment dried up revenue," Sainato said in a statement. "These grants will provide a welcome infusion of funding that businesses can use for operating expenses, personnel costs, including recruitment and retention, equipment and supplies, reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses, and other expenses.

"It's going to help them get their doors back open and running at full capacity so they can be there to support the working families who depend on them," Sainato noted.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, child care facilities regulated by the state across Pennsylvania were serving the needs of about 350,000 children. At the height of the pandemic, the number of open facilities dropped from over 7,000 to the 700 that kept their doors open for the children of essential workers.

A July 2020 survey of Pennsylvania child care providers conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that 35% believed they would permanently close if they did not receive government assistance. Overall, respondents said that their average enrollment had dropped 66% compared to pre-COVID levels.

A majority of the state's child care providers that were surveyed reported paying more for items such as cleaning supplies for their facilities and personal protective equipment, as well as for staffing and personnel.

The providers will be able to use the funds provided under the American Rescue Plan to cover operating expenses, to reimburse past expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, to retain and recruit employees, and to purchase equipment and supplies.

The $2.3 million allocation is part of a package of $655 million for child care providers across the state that was allocated by the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf out of funding provided under the law, which was signed by President Joe Biden in 2021 after it passed in Congress with only Democratic votes and over unified Republican opposition.

Nationally, the Rescue Plan allocated $39 billion of the law's $1.9 trillion in funds for child care, the largest federal funding of the sector in U.S. history.

The Biden administration said in a statement on the child care funding on April 15, 2021, "Today's $39 billion funding release will provide a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of childcare providers and early childhood educators, provide a safe and healthy learning environment for more than 5 million children, and help parents, especially mothers, get back to work."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.