Update on State Child Care Budget and Policy in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Governor Wolf and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) announced the distribution of $116 million in CARES funding to nearly 7,000 child care providers throughout Pennsylvania. This round of funding is the third distribution allocated to sustaining the child care sector during the current health crisis, with a total investment of $220 million, $104 million of which was distributed earlier this summer. The latest round of funding was largely based on findings from a research study undertaken by Penn State Harrisburg’s Institute of State and Regional Affairs, which studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Pennsylvania’s child care industry.

As part of his fall legislative agenda, Governor Wolf last week announced a proposed a $250 million investment in the child care sector to help families in need of child care for school-aged children due to hybrid K-12 programs in the 2020-21 school year. Wolf also proposed $27 million to expand access to child care deserts in Pennsylvania, or areas where few providers exist. Finally, $50 million in grants also was proposed for programs serving low-income communities and offering part-day school-age care.

OCDEL has also offered guidance for families and child care centers to ensure school-age children have access to reliable child care. The announcement provides guidance to non-licensed community-based entities and individuals planning to care for groups for school-age children during the 2020-21 school year. Additionally, OCDEL is directing an entity or person operating a non-licensed part-day school-age child care (SACC) program or Learning Pod to notify the Department of Human Services (DHS) and OCDEL if they intend to care for more than six school-age children for the school year.

A new change to child care subsidy payments recently announced by OCDEL also took effect this week. Due to the pandemic, OCDEL was making child care subsidy payments to providers based on the provider’s subsidy enrollment in March 2020. However, effective September 1st, OCDEL returned to pre-pandemic procedures, now basing subsidy payments on actual attendance.