Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC), together with their partners in the Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA campaigns, unveiled their proposal to provide stimulus relief for early care and education infrastructure during the coronavirus pandemic. Circulated to members of the state House and Senate to gain their support, the plan proposes the utilization of federal funds for emergency actions in order to preserve and stabilize capacity in the sector. The proposal suggests the following three-pronged strategy to support high-quality child care:
- Federal funds should be used to pay child care subsidies and contract payments to Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Programs for the duration of the crisis.
- Federal funds should also be used to compensate for the shares of revenues that would have otherwise been collected by providers in the Child Care Works program as co-pays until child care services return to normal.
- Federal funding should be used to cover a portion of lost revenues for uncollected private pay tuition through the crisis period.
As stated by PPC, in order to protect gains made through state pre-k investments and boost the chances of school success when the pandemic ends, the General Assembly should appropriate funds to allow Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs to offer summer instruction for children who will enter kindergarten in the fall. Additionally, to protect providers, instill consumer confidence in reopening and decrease risk of subsequent infection, every child care, Pre-K Counts and Head Start program must be required to attend free training on the practices needed to sanitize all spaces in which children and staff are working, and funding must be provided so publicly-funded programs are able to clean before re-opening. Finally, legislation must be passed to impose an immunity from tort liability associated with claims related to COVID-19 for all certified child care providers. Sen. Pat Stefano has filed a co-sponsorship memo seeking support for a proposal that will provide liability protection for Pennsylvania businesses and potentially help protect the viability of child care centers during and after the pandemic.
PPC is working with their partners in the campaigns to educate the legislature and administration on the need for swift action on the stimulus recommendations in order to ensure that parents returning to work once the current crisis is abated have reliable, quality child care. Stay tuned for updates.