Early Childhood Funding Map

In 2020, Pennsylvania was home to 12,807,060 children and youth from birth to age 24. Of that number, 713,023 were from birth to age five.

The early childhood education system

Early childhood education (ECE) is a complex system of programs and funding streams at the federal and state level. This tool considers how programs and funding may impact young children and families within the ECE system, beginning with federal and state agencies.

In Pennsylvania, ECE programs fall under the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), a collaborative effort between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS). This tool also considers funding that may impact young children and families such as health and nutrition programs

About the map

Each line represents a program/funding stream that provides services and supports integral to Pennsylvania’s ECE system. The lines are intended to provide an overview of how public dollars support young children and families, as well as the services in the ECE system, demonstrating how the money flows from federal, state, and local levels to the program level.

The following funding breakout, map, and program and service descriptions are not exhaustive of all early childhood expenditures but are intended to be a primer on the state’s complex early childhood system. More details for each program/service are provided in the program description section. To see what the history of investments in early learning in Pennsylvania has been, please view our budget document (PDF).

Map Demo

Definitions for the Program/Service Provider


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  • What is the program/service?
    Child Care (Federal): The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provide federal funding to Pennsylvania’s Child Care Works (CCW) subsidy program for children under age 13 in families with low-income.

    The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a federal and state partnership program administered by states, territories, and tribes. In PA, CCDF funding is administered through the Early Learning Resources Centers (ELRCs) in order to provide financial child care assistance to families with low-income.

    This funding also supports Pennsylvania's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for early and school-age care and education programs, Keystone STARS, and licensing. The SSBG provides flexible funds to states for activities that serve vulnerable populations, and this includes supporting subsidies for child care for families with low-income. PA DHS is responsible for administering the SSBG in Pennsylvania and funding is administered through the ELRCs to provide child care subsidies to eligible families. ELRCs provide a single point-of-contact for families, early learning service providers, and communities to gain information and access services that support high-quality child care and early learning programs.

    CCW subsidies help families with low-income afford quality child care. Families with an income at 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) or below and who meet the work requirements are eligible to enter the program. Based on the 2021 guidelines, a family of four making $53,000 is at 200% FPL.

    The Keystone STARS program uses research-based standards focused on: staff qualifications and professional development, programming (curriculum, classroom environment), partnerships with family and community, and leadership and management (business practices). STAR 3 and 4 are considered high-quality, which only 42% of Pennsylvania child care providers meet.
  • Who provides the funded services?
    Agencies such as local governments and nonprofit organizations administer funds to support child care providers and families through the ELRCs.

    Direct child care services are provided by operators of community-based early childhood centers, home-based care, and relative care providers who receive the CCW payments and Keystone STARS support.
  • How much funding is there and how is it used?
    In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, there was $1.1B of federal funding for child care in PA.

    Public funds supporting child care in PA come from both the federal and state government. The majority of those funds go to pay child care providers for services, including the CCW subsidy payments for eligible children enrolled. Child care funding includes items such as a base rate for programs. In addition to child care programs, child care funding supports agencies administering CCW assist with tasks such as eligibility determination and case management, as well as management of waiting lists, payments, and funds. CCDBG is the primary source of federal funding for CCW.

    Child Care Services (state line item): In addition to CCW subsidy payments, this funding stream supports Keystone STARS programs through Professional Development opportunities. CCDBG is the primary source of federal funding for Keystone STARS.

    In FY 2021-2022 the funding for Child Care Services was $156M.

    Child Care Assistance (state line item): This funding supports CCW subsidies for families receiving TANF, former TANF and SNAP benefits. These are federally funded through TANF, SNAP, and CCDBG and also supported by the state.

    In FY 2021-2022 funding for Child Care Assistance was $110M.

    As of January 1, 2022, $352 million in CCDF federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding supports lower maximum copayments for families eligible for CCW to 3-7% of family income, within the federal recommendation, and increased base reimbursement rates for providers participating in CCW to the 60th percentile compared to the private pay market rate. This change brings Pennsylvania closer to the federally-recommended 75th percentile and includes an add-on rate for providers serving CCW-eligible children during non-traditional hours.
  • Who benefits?
    38,113 (17,988 infants and toddlers) children younger than five years are enrolled in the CCW program as of October 2020.

    162,617 children eligible for CCW remain unserved as of October 2020.

    The data only includes children receiving CCW, not private pay families. The state does not have reliable data on all children served in child care younger than five years. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 71% of Pennsylvania children younger than age six had all adults in their household in the labor force, so many more families need child care.

    Even with federal and state funding, child care is still largely a private pay industry with families paying up to nearly $12,000 annually for infant/toddler child care. Only 19% of eligible children receive CCW subsidy and the subsidy reimbursement providers receive is only 60% of the market rate (which doesn’t account for the actual cost of quality care).
  • Advocacy:
    Start Strong PA advocates for affordable, high-quality infant and toddler child care in PA. Specific goals of this initiative include improving family access and affordability, securing sufficient payments to child care providers by paying providers in ways that reinforce stability, increase compensation for early learning professionals, and ensure accountability, oversight, and evaluation of the statewide early learning system.

    Start Strong PA. 2021 (October). “Research — Start Strong PA.”

    The Annie E Casey Foundation. 2020. “Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force in Pennsylvania.” Kids Count Data Center.

    PA Office of the Budget. 2021. “Commonwealth Budget.” Budget.PA.gov.

    Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. 2021 (October). Start Strong PA Child Care Works Map.


  • What is the program/service?
    Head Start (HS) is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children from birth to age five and their families. Pennsylvania also has Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CCP), which funds classrooms for infants and toddlers.
  • Who provides the funded services?
    Primarily center-based child care, K–12 schools, and stand alone HS programs. EHS home visiting is provided in the family environment. The Commonwealth of PA also serves as a grantee and provides EHS to a small number of locations across the Commonwealth. HS is a direct federal-to-local program delivered by public or private organizations across the state, and grantees include child care centers, stand-alone HS programs, and K-12 schools. HS federal grants are also administered through the state or Intermediate Units and are then distributed to the program level.
  • How much funding is there and how is it used?
    PA received $334M in federal dollars for federal HS services in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-2020.

    Families who are 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) are eligible for HS and EHS at no cost. Based on 2021 guidelines, a family of four making $26,500 is at 100% FPL.

    HS funds are awarded directly to program operators at the local level or through a lead agency. Funds can be used for program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and technology investments. HS provides high-quality education, health, nutrition, and parent engagement services. Head Start standards indicate high-quality, and they are considered to be equivalent to four stars in the Keystone STARS, Pennsylvania’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. Children ages three through five receive HS services, and at least 10% of a program’s enrollment must include children with disabilities.

    Many HS programs also provide EHS, which is an evidence-based home visiting and child development program for pregnant women, infants, and toddlers, including young children with disabilities. EHS grantees provide services to children from birth to age 3 and to pregnant women. Home visiting operates virtually or in the family home. See the “Home Visiting” section for more information about these programs.
  • Who benefits?
    35,979 children and families were served by PA’s federal HS program in FY 2019-2020 (This is the most recent data we have access to for federal HS).

    106,720 eligible children in PA don’t have access to high-quality publicly-funded pre-k programs which includes HS, HSSAP, and Pre-K Counts (PKC). An additional 5,336 pre-k classrooms are needed.
  • Advocacy:
    Pre-K for PA advocates to make high-quality pre-k accessible to every three- and four-year-old in Pennsylvania. Specifically, Pre-K for PA works toward increased investments in the PKC and HSSAP line items.

    Head Start. 2021. “Head Start Program Facts: Fiscal Year 2019 | ECLKC.” ECLKC.

    PA Office of the Budget. 2021. “Commonwealth Budget.” Budget.PA.gov.

    Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. 2021 (October). Pre-K for PA High-quality Publicly-funded Pre-K Map.




  • What is the program/service?
    Pennsylvania's Early Intervention (EI) Program provides special education and intervention services for children ages birth through five. EI includes support and services to families with children with developmental delays and disabilities. Early Intervention Programs are provided through a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Department of Human Services (DHS).
  • Who provides the funded services?
    EI (birth to age three): PA DHS administers funds to local DHS agencies who then administer the funds to direct service community-based programs. Eligible children may receive services in a variety of settings such as child care centers, Head Start (HS) programs, early childhood special education classrooms, or the family’s home. This allows for flexibility to meet the needs of the child and their family, as well as to maximize opportunities for learning.

    EI (ages three to five): PA PDE administers funds to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that then administer the funds to community-based programs. Eligible children may receive services in a variety of settings such as child care centers, HS programs, early childhood special education classrooms, or the family home. This allows for flexibility to meet the needs of the child and their family, as well as to maximize opportunities for learning.
  • How much funding is there and how is it used?
    In 2021-2022, EI programs serving children birth to age three received $173M.
    In 2021-2022, EI programs serving children ages three to five received $337M.

    Programs are funded through a combination of state funds and federal funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – Early Intervention through IDEA Part C, and Early Childhood Special Education IDEA Part B. The Federal IDEA supports early intervention and special education and related services for children and youth with disabilities. This includes disbursing payments for families, insurance company payments, federal Medicaid reimbursements, and state funds.

    EI also includes benefits from Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT). EPSDT provides comprehensive and preventive health care services for children under age 21 who are enrolled in Medicaid. Under this program, PA must provide eligible children with periodic screenings to determine their medical needs, including physical, mental, developmental, dental, hearing, and vision. EI programs receive some funding from EPSDT at the state level in PA.
  • Who benefits?
    In Fiscal Year 2019-2020, 104,797 children birth to age five were served in EI.

    EI services are provided at no cost to eligible children.
  • Advocacy:
    Early Learning PA (ELPA) believes the state should increase investment in EI for ages birth through five. Specifically, all children with developmental delays or disabilities should be identified, as well as have the support they need to maximize their development and reach their full potential.

    PA Office of the Budget. 2021. “Commonwealth Budget.” Budget.PA.gov.

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT Data Center. 2021. “Early Intervention - Number of children receiving Early Intervention services | KIDS COUNT Data Center.” Kids Count Data Center.


  • What is the program/service?
    Evidence-based home visiting programs in PA are funded through the federal Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), State Family Centers, and Nurse Family Partnership. Services include in-home prevention services to support and empower families with children from birth to age five. Support is provided by trained home visitors who are typically professionals, such as early childhood educators, nurses, or patient mentors.

    Operators that provide home visitation services can use contract funds for a wide range of program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.
  • Who provides the funded services?
    Professionals representing evidence-based home visiting programs offered through hospitals, clinics, or community-based organizations generally provide the services in the family’s home environment.
  • How much funding is there and how is it used?
    Pennsylvania received $16.3 million in Federal MIECHV dollars for fiscal year 2021. PA home visiting funds come from state General Funds, MIECHV, and Medicaid that are split into:

    In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-2022, Community-Based Family Centers received $19.6M.

    This supports the implementation of evidence-based home visiting in 42 family centers serving 31 Pennsylvania counties. Family centers are designed to offer a variety of community services for parents. The evidence-based home visiting models operating in PA include: Parents as Teachers, Nurse-Family Partnership, Healthy Families America, Early Head Start-Home Based Option, SafeCare Augmented, and Family Check-Up®. This includes MIECHV funding.

    In FY 2021-2022, Nurse Family Partnership received $13.1M.

    The Nurse Family Partnership is an evidence-based home visitation program that gives first-time mothers with low-income the support necessary to provide an excellent start for their children. During pregnancy through the child’s second birthday, families receive ongoing nurse home visits conducted by a bachelor level nurse. This includes Federal Medical Assistance (Medicaid) funding.
  • Who benefits?
    17,161 children were served by publicly funded, evidence-based home visiting programs in Fiscal Year 2020-2021.

    329,650 (40% of all children under age six in low-income families) in PA are not served.
  • Advocacy:
    Childhood Begins at Home educates the public about and advocates for investments in voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs in PA.

    PA Office of the Budget. 2021. “Commonwealth Budget.” Budget.PA.gov.

    PA Partnerships for Children. 2021. “Resources.” Childhood Begins at Home.


  • What is the program/service?
    The PA Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federally funded health and nutrition program. WIC provides supplemental foods and nutrition education at no cost, to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women as well as infants, and children up to age five who are determined to be at nutritional risk. All participants must be at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and demonstrate a medical or nutrition risk. The goal of the WIC program is to decrease the risk of poor birth outcomes and to improve the health of children during critical stages of growth and development.
  • Who provides the funded service?
    Providers include hospitals and clinics, county health departments, and community-based settings. The PA WIC program is administered by the PA Department of Health (DOH), and operated by nonprofits and county governments, typically through clinics and local agencies.
  • How much funding is there and how is it used?
    PA WIC was funded for $278.2M of federal funds in Fiscal Year 2020-2021.

    WIC funds primarily pay directly for participants’ food purchases. A smaller percentage of funds support breastfeeding, nutrition professionals, and administrative costs.
  • Who benefits?
    155,094 individuals are participating in the state’s WIC program as of October 2021.

    Total participation rate for WIC in PA is 52.7%, with 47.3% of eligible participants remaining unserved.
  • Advocacy:
    Thriving PA seeks to improve the quality of and increase access to a coordinated system of health supports statewide. The campaign’s primary goal is to ensure each birthing person and child in PA has the opportunity for affordable, quality health care access. Thriving PA advocates for WIC through its Prenatal and Children’s Nutrition efforts. This campaign advocates for the financial stability and modernization for WIC to ensure food security and nutrition for pregnant women and young children.

    “A Time to Thrive: Growing Pennsylvania WIC's Impact on Children and Families.” 2021. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

    PA Bureau of WIC. 2021. “PA WIC Program Data.” Pennsylvania WIC.


  • What is the program/service?
    Medicaid (also known as Medical Assistance) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are major public sources of health care services for pregnant women, infants, and children. Medicaid and CHIP are administered by PA Department of Human Services (DHS) and are funded jointly by the state and the federal government. Medicaid eligibility and CHIP eligibility levels are tied to income guidelines.

    Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) provide health plans to recipients for both PA CHIP and Medicaid. An MCO is a health plan that is focused on managed care as a model to limit costs, while keeping the quality of care high. Nearly all populations covered by Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program are now enrolled in MCOs.
  • Who provides the funded services?
    Hospitals, clinics, and community-based settings
  • How much funding is there and how is it used?
    CHIP spending in PA was $1.5B in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-2020. The state share was $687.8M, and the federal share was $767.8M.

    For FY 2020-2021, total Medicaid spending in PA was $35.2B. The federal share was $22.1B and the state share was 13.1B.

    **These totals also include eligible seniors and those with disabilities. Data on PA Medicaid funds for birthing individuals during the perinatal period are not available.
  • Who benefits?
    Across PA, children and pregnant women rely on Medicaid and the CHIP for their comprehensive health insurance. In June 2021, 1,505,841 children were enrolled in Medicaid and PA CHIP. This total accounts for 45% of all Medicaid/CHIP enrollment.

    CHIP provides primary and preventive health care to low-income, uninsured children and youth who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medicaid. CHIP has three payment tiers that provide comprehensive coverage to children and teens up to age 19: free, low-cost, and full-cost, depending on the household income. Children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP if their household income does not exceed 314% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

    PA Medicaid provides coverage for:
    ● Pregnant women with income up to 215% of the FPL for 60 days following the birth of their baby. PA has committed to a (potentially temporary) extension of one year postpartum coverage through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
    ● Children of low-income families through age 18. Children are covered up to age one if the mother is eligible for and receiving Medicaid when the child is born.

    In 2020, 34% of PA mothers had Medicaid at the time of birth; this accounted for 43,963 births. Data for mothers using Medicaid during the perinatal period in PA are not available.
  • Advocacy:
    Thriving PA aims to educate families about free or low-cost, affordable options for health insurance, as well as to encourage policymakers to expand CHIP for pregnant women and children.

    Kaiser Family Foundation. 2022. “Medicaid & CHIP Indicators.”

    March of Dimes. 2021. “Medicaid coverage of births Pennsylvania | PeriStats | March Of Dimes.” Peristats.

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

  • What is the program/service?
    The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that reimburses meals served to participants in eligible, licensed, child care centers, home-based programs, and after school programs. At least half of children participating in CACFP live in families with low-income, at or below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

    In early childhood programs (pre-kindergarten and child care), CACFP provides reimbursement for two meals (breakfast, lunch, or supper) and one snack, or one meal and two snacks each day. Before and after school programs in CACFP typically provide a snack or supper (and sometimes provide breakfast or lunch) when children are not attending school.
  • Who provides the funded services?
    Center-based child care, Home-based child care, Relative care providers, stand alone Head Start Programs, K-12 schools
  • How much funding is there and how is it used?
    PA CACFP payments for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-2021 were $80.5M.

    CACFP programs are eligible for reimbursement for meals served to enrolled participants, as well as technical assistance, nutrition education materials, and yearly training sessions.
  • Who benefits?
    The PA daily average attendance for FY 2020-2021 was 93,328.

    “Child Nutrition Tables | Food and Nutrition Service.” 2021. USDA Food and Nutrition Service.


  • What is the program/service?
    Title I, Part A, most recently reauthorized in 2015 as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides financial assistance to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.

    The federal funds flow through the state education department to support K–12 schools and other local education agencies (LEAs) with a concentration of children in families with low-income receiving targeted funds under Part A (Title I).

    Early childhood education is an allowable expense under the ESSA. Title I funds may be used by LEAs to fund early childhood education programs for eligible children that are subject to the performance standards of the Head Start Act.
  • Who provides the funded services?
    School districts, K-12 schools, and intermediate units
  • How can Title I funding support early childhood education?
    Title I is not specifically for early childhood and primarily funds K-12 schools, however, school districts have flexibility in how they spend their Title I funds and can utilize it to support early childhood in various ways. This includes coordinating professional development for pre-k and kindergarten teachers, including pre-k and incoming kindergarten students in summer enrichment opportunities, engaging with families of incoming children, and supporting screening and diagnostic assessments to identify any mental health needs and to assess academic skills.

    Every year a memorandum of understanding (MOU) is to be developed between the LEA and the county Head Start agency. The purpose is to establish collaborations with Head Start and to develop a plan stating how the LEA will transition children who have attended a Head Start program or other early learning program.

21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC)

  • What is the program/service?
    The 21st CCLC establishes community learning centers with academic enrichment opportunities for students and their families. The 21st CCLC grant is authorized under, Title IV, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015.
  • How can CCLC funding support early childhood education?
    CCLC after school programs that serve elementary school age students work with children in their early childhood years (early childhood is inclusive of birth through age nine). Although 21st CCLC is not explicitly for early childhood education, the programming impacts the system in which providers and families with young children operate as well as the child’s developmental continuum.
  • Who provides the funded service?
    The 21st CCLCs, administered by PA Department of Education (PDE), can be established by many entities. Grantees can include public school districts, charter schools, private schools, nonprofits, city or county government agencies, faith-based organizations, institutions of higher education, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, and for-profit corporations.
  • How much funding is there and how is it used?
    In 2019, PDE awarded $21.6M for Cohort 10. Grantees were awarded between $50,000 and $600,000 annually.

    For Fiscal Year (FY) 2020-2021, Pennsylvania received $49.2M for 21st Century CCLCs.

    Programming must occur during non-school hours or periods when school is not in session. The goal of the CCLCs is to help students from high-poverty and low-performing schools to meet standards in core subjects. The 21st CCLC grant is federally funded and administered by PA PDE. The most recent grantees for CCLCs were awarded for a five year period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2024.
  • Who benefits?
    PA CCLCs served 49,230 students in FY 2020-2021.

    21st CCLC grants are the only federal funding source for local communities’ afterschool and summer programs. In PA, two out of every seven applications cannot be funded, and for every one student in afterschool, three more students would participate if a program were available.

    Pennsylvania Department of Education. 2019. “2019-24 Cohort 10.”

    “Afterschool Alliance.” 2021. Afterschool Alliance.

    “Budget Analysis of 21st Century Community Learning Centers Funding Levels.” 2021. Afterschool Alliance.

Definitions for the Program/Service Provider

For the purposes of this tool, the program/service providers are meant to represent the settings that public investments go toward in order to provide the service to families and children. These explanations are intended to provide clarity for the setting, and are not all official definitions.

Center-based Child Care: Care and education provided to more than seven children in a center that is certified by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).

Home-Based Child Care: Includes Family Child Care and Group Child Care Homes

Family child care homes: One caregiver who provides care and education for three to six children who are not related to them in a home setting that is certified by OCDEL.

Group child care homes: Care and education provided for up to 12 children in a home (or commercial setting) that is certified by OCDEL.

Relative Care Providers: One caregiver who provides care and education for no more than three related children in a home setting who may be eligible for subsidy reimbursement. Relatives are defined as grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. All relative providers must be 18 years of age or older and live in a residence separate from the residence of the child for whom they will provide care.

Head Start Programs: Stand-alone programs providing Head Start to eligible 3- and 4-year olds and their families. These programs may also have Pre-K Counts classrooms.

Licensed Nursery Schools: Preschools licensed as private licensed academic nursery schools by the Department of Education (PDE).

K-12 Schools: Public schools across Pennsylvania who serve students in kindergarten through grade 12. Some public schools may also have pre-k classrooms.

Home Environment: The family’s home environment is inclusive and encompasses all settings that families call home. Some early childhood services/programs may receive funds to serve children and their families directly in a home environment.

Hospitals, Clinics, and Community-based settings: These settings are inclusive of the various entities that carry out or receive funds for the health, nutrition, and child development programs received by families and their young children.


The Annie E Casey Foundation. 2021. “Child population by age group in Pennsylvania.” KIDS COUNT DATA CENTER.

Boys with cars on play road.