HARRISBURG – Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) could help families pay for family services in Pennsylvania.
On Monday, Governor Tom Wolf and his administration announced changes to Child Care Works (CCW), Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program, to decrease costs to families who qualify for subsidized care while also adding incentives for child care providers to participate in the program.
“We cannot miss an opportunity to invest resources where they will make a positive and lasting impact on our children,” said Gov. Wolf. “By targeting investments to our subsidized child care system, we are investing in equitable quality child care for all Pennsylvanians, no matter where they live or their income. Pennsylvania’s economy, its families, and its future depend on a strong child care and early learning system, and I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the dedicated child care providers and professionals who choose to invest in our children and families every day. Our economic recovery from the pandemic will be possible because of you.”
Pennsylvania received more than $1 billion from the ARPA to support the commonwealth’s child care industry, child care providers and the children and families that rely on this system.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, $352 million in Child Care Development Fund federal ARPA funding will also support:
- Lower maximum copayments for families eligible for CCW: $121.9 million will be used to reduce the maximum family copayment for families participating in subsidized child care through CCW. Current copayments range from 3-11 percent of a family’s overall income. This change will lower the copayment to 3-7 percent, in line with federal recommendations for family obligations for subsidized child care. No family will see an increased copay through the adjustment, and providers will still receive the difference as a part of the CCW base rate.
- Increased base rates for providers participating in CCW: $213.7 million will support increasing base rates paid to subsidized child care to the 60th percentile compared to the private pay market rate, which is still below the federally-recommended 75th percentile.
Nearly two-thirds of children whose families are eligible for CCW are enrolled in a STAR 1 or 2 rated facility. In March 2021, the Wolf Administration raised base rates from the 25th percentile to the 40th percentile.
- Rate incentives for providers that offer child care during non-traditional hours: $16.8 million will support add-on incentives to CCW base rates for child care providers that offer at least two hours of care during non-traditional hours.
The White House reported a 210 percent increase in child care costs from 1990 to 2019. A recent study from ThePennyHoarder.com showed 84 percent of parents in America feel overwhelmed by these costs.
“For our youngest Pennsylvanians, an early childhood education experience can shape their educational, social, and emotional development throughout their lives,” said DHS Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “Beyond its necessity for a thriving economy today, investments in quality early learning and child care programs carry into PreK-12 education and throughout adulthood. This funding will give our youngest Pennsylvanians a strong start they deserve and supports the dedicated educators and professionals that make this possible.”
Since March 2020, more than $1.1 billion of aid has been made available in Pennsylvania directly to providers to offset financial losses, assist with added infection control and safety costs and invest in staff recruitment, retention, and higher, livable wages.
Additionally, $600 Pandemic Relief Awards were extended to approximately 38,000 child care professionals for their service through the pandemic. To date, approximately 3,150 applications have been approved, while 367 are in-process and 269 are under review. More than $382 million has been obligated to approved providers.
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