March 7, 2023

ELPA Responds to Governor Shapiro’s 2023-24 Pennsylvania Budget Proposal

On March 7, 2023, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro released his 2023-24 state budget proposal.

The principal partners of Early Learning Pennsylvania (ELPA), a statewide coalition of advocates focused on supporting young Pennsylvanians from birth to age five, are pleased with proposed investments in pre-k, evidence-based home visiting, and perinatal and child health.

ELPA operates four issue-based advocacy campaigns: Pre-K for PAStart Strong PAChildhood Begins at Home, and Thriving PA.

Governor Shapiro’s state budget proposal included:


  • $30 million in additional funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program to boost reimbursement rates by nearly $1,000 per child (full-day) / $500 per child (part-day). 
  • $3 million in additional funding for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program to boost cost per child.

This funding is intended to further support pre-kindergarten providers in combating rising inflation and address increasing staffing shortages.

In the press release, ELPA states, “It is worth noting, however, that the classroom closures and teacher shortages resulting from low wages found in the child care sector is also impacting pre-k availability because 48 percent of the children served in Pre-K Counts classrooms are located in high-quality child care centers.

“As part of his budget address, the Governor also noted the importance of giving Pennsylvania children a ‘ladder up’ through pre-k. Unfortunately, this budget proposal does not provide the resources necessary to expand publicly-funded pre-k opportunities to more of the 100,000 Pennsylvania children that are eligible but not served.

“The General Assembly should respond to the 78 percent of Pennsylvania voters that supported increasing state funding to serve more eligible children in pre-k programs by building on the Governor’s proposal and expanding pre-k access.”

Child Care

  • $66.7 million in new funding for the state’s Child Care Services line item to maintain subsidized child care access to 75,000 low-income working families and sustain Child Care Works (CCW) reimbursements to meet or exceed rates at the 60th percentile of the market rate for child care facilities.

According to ELPA, “Governor Shapiro correctly emphasized the importance of high-quality child care for working families and the need to boost child care wages to get ‘more teachers and professionals on the job,’  and eliminate growing wait lists. Unfortunately, the Administration’s $66.7 million proposal merely maintains a system already in crisis.

“The proposal continues subsidized child care access to 75,000 low-income working families and sustains Child Care Works reimbursements to meet or exceed base rates at the 60th percentile of the market rate for a child care provider’s region. This represents a continuation of the current child care operating environment that has been in place since January 2022 after utilizing one-time federal funds to boost rates. Since that time, conditions within the system have not improved, in fact, wait lists have increased.

“Currently, Pennsylvania’s child care system is experiencing a 4,000 person workforce shortfall resulting in more than 35,500 children sitting on wait lists making it difficult for parents to work.

“The average child care teacher earns less than $12.50/hr. with approximately 21 percent of those child care teachers relying on SNAP benefits and 21 percent insured by Medicaid. As many of these staff are college educated, it’s no surprise that nearly 50 percent of educators surveyed say they are unlikely to remain in their child care jobs. Without a direct investment in the child care sector’s workforce, this crisis will continue and is likely to mean that more classrooms will close and more working parents will struggle to find care for their children.

“The child care crisis is costing working families, employers, and taxpayers $6.65 billion annually in lost wages, productivity and revenue. Fortunately, child care is an issue that crosses over the political divide with 81 percent of Pennsylvania voters in favor of allocating state funding to increase wages of child care workers and 78 percent percent of voters supporting an increase in state funding to help more low-income working families afford high-quality child care.

“The PA House and Senate must build on what’s been proposed by Governor Shapiro and not simply maintain a system that is currently in crisis but invest more, prioritizing the sector’s workforce to get ahead of this staffing shortage. Pennsylvania businesses depend on working families and working families depend on child care.” 

Home Visiting

  • Level funding for evidence-based home visiting in the Community-Based Family Centers line item as well as level funding for the Nurse Family Partnership line item.

ELPA stated, “Following last year’s historic budget increase for evidence-based home visiting, the Childhood Begins at Home campaign appreciates the continued funding in the proposal. Voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs mentor parents and others raising children and provide supports for child development and school readiness, child health, family economic self-sufficiency, linkages and referrals, maternal health, positive parenting practices, reductions in child maltreatment and reductions in juvenile delinquency, family violence and crime.   

“While there is a large unmet need for services with only 5 percent of eligible pregnant women, young children and families currently receiving them, we acknowledge increased access must be done in a manner that home visiting programs can effectively implement.”

Perinatal and Child Health

  • $10.4 million increase for the Part B Early Intervention program (age three to five) offered through PDE.
  • $20 million increase funding for the Early Intervention Part C (infant and toddler) program through DHS.
  • $2.3 million increase to expand Maternal Health Programing, implementing strategies outlined by the Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC).

“All children birth through age five with developmental delays must be identified, referred to and accepted for the services they need to reach their fullest potential. The proposed state budget includes a needed investment in Early Intervention services with an increase of $10.4 million for the Early Intervention Part B (age three to five) program in the Department of Education (PDE) budget and a $20 million increase for Early Intervention Part C (infants and toddlers) program in the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget,” ELPA stated.

Learn More

Read ELPA’s full budget response statement to learn more.

The Pittsburgh-based early childhood nonprofit Trying Together and other partners of ELPA will continue to advocate for these investments as the budget process continues. Stay up-to-date on how to advocate for these issues by signing-up to get public policy updates from Trying Together.