February 6, 2024

ELPA Responds to Governor Shapiro’s 2024-25 Pennsylvania Budget Proposal

On February 6, 2024, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro released his 2024-25 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:


  • $32.478 million in additional funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program.
  • $2.7 million in additional funding for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.

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

In a press release, ELPA states, “Inadequate wages across the early care and education sector are causing pre-k classrooms to close throughout the commonwealth. Pre-k teachers earn roughly half of their (K-5) counterparts in public schools and face the tough choice of staying in their chosen profession as wages increase across other sectors. This investment is a critical first step in closing this gap and ensuring adequate staffing levels to operate state funded pre-k programs at current-funded capacity…Additional investment will be needed in future years to further mitigate teacher shortages in this competitive economy and ensure greater access to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our preschool learners.”  

Child Care

  • $31.709 million in additional funding for child care ($29.331 million in Child Care Services and $2.378 million in Child Care Assistance).

According to the press release, “Start Strong PA welcomes the inclusion of an increase in the child care subsidy reimbursement rate to the 75th percentile of the market rate. We know this is long overdue and will alleviate some of the rising facility, food, utility, and supply costs for those child care providers participating in Child Care Works.”

However, the campaign acknowledges that more investments that focus directly on recruiting and retaining child care teachers and staff are needed to solve the staffing crisis in the field.

Home Visiting

  • Level funding for evidence-based home visiting in the Community-Based Family Center line item and a minor reduction in the Nurse-Family Partnership line item to adjust for federal matching rates.

According to the release, Childhood Begins at Home is concerned the proposed 2024-25 budget does not account for the anticipated loss of one-time federal stimulus funds that were included in the Community-Based Family Center line (in DHS) as part of the 2023-24 final budget.

“Without any assurance that the state will sustain funding to backfill for expired stimulus funds and administrative cuts due to sequestration, we worry this ultimately will mean fewer home visiting services will be provided in Pennsylvania next year. Even more sobering is that only 7% of children under age 6 living in low-income households statewide currently receive voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services.” 

Early Intervention

  • $16.7 million increase for the Early Intervention Part C (infant and toddler) program through DHS.
  • $17 million increase for the Part B Early Intervention program (age three to five) through PDE.

“Thriving PA urges policymakers to build on this proposal and ensure an investment would provide for a long-needed rate adjustment for Early Intervention providers and serve additional children. Additional support would help to address key issues in the sector, including workforce shortages, achieving equitable enrollment, and addressing the growing needs of families across the commonwealth. National data shows that not all children who are eligible to participate in Early Intervention do so,” according to the press release.

Learn More

For details, read the full ELPA budget statement.

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.