February 15, 2019

Response to Governor Wolf’s Budget Proposal

On Tuesday, February 5, Governor Tom Wolf presented his fiscal year 2019-20 budget proposal. In highlighting his plan to make the Pennsylvania workforce the strongest in the nation, he outlined several increases in early care and education programs, as well as his plans to spend over $101 million in federal child care funds. Governor Wolf’s proposal includes the following:

Child Care

  • $15 million in federal funds to provide subsidized child care for 970 additional infants/toddlers in STAR 3 and 4 programs.
  • $10 million in federal funds to provide a 28 percent increase to tiered reimbursement rates for STAR 2, 3 and 4 providers for infant/toddler care.
  • $2 million in federal funds to support an “Early Childhood Career Pathways Initiative” for education, training and professional supports for an apprenticeship, or work-based learning model for professionals serving infants/toddlers in early care and education programs.
  • $74 million in federal funds to provide a rate increase for subsidized providers for an increase in the minimum wage to $12/hour.

Today only one-third of subsidized children are accessing high-quality STAR 3 and 4 care, 4,300 children are on the subsidy waiting list, with families waiting 88 days to access subsidies they need to work, 50 percent of child care staff are receiving public assistance and child care subsidy reimbursements do not cover the cost of quality care. Trying Together, along with nine partner advocacy organizations, launched a new advocacy campaign last week – Start Strong PA – to turn those numbers around and increase access to high-quality child care for families so their infants and toddlers can grow, learn and succeed.

We are pleased to see the federal spending plan includes a waiting list initiative to serve more infants/toddlers in high-quality care and an increase in tiered reimbursement that will provide further program stability and consistency in teacher:child relationships. These are proposals for which we and partners advocated and align with our goals. We also believe the “career pathways” initiative will help to attract and retain talented early care and education teachers, another hallmark of the campaign.

Trying Together looks forward to learning more about Governor Wolf’s minimum wage proposal’s impact on the professionals in our field and the programs in which they work. While we appreciate the allocation of these critical federal dollars and again thank our federal delegation for strong, bipartisan support for high-quality child care, we are concerned with the lack of new state investments in this area.


  • $40 million for the Pre-K Counts program
  • $10 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program

This expansion would serve 5,500 additional young children.  

Today the commonwealth ranks 18th of the 30 states investing in high-quality, publicly-funded pre-k and with this investment 100,000 children still lack access. As a leading partner in the Pre-K for PA campaign, Trying Together is advocating that lawmakers fully-fund Governor Wolf’s proposal.

Evidence-Based Home Visiting

In addition, the budget proposal includes a $5 million investment in evidence-based home visiting programs to expand home visiting for 800 eligible families.

For more information on home visiting advocacy efforts go to

Evidence-Based Early Intervention

There is a $15 million state funding increase proposed in the Department of Education budget and a $9.75 million increase in the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget for Early Intervention to continue to support the cost of children receiving services.

Trying Together commends Governor Wolf for his continued commitment to early care and education programs in the commonwealth and encourages a state investment be made in high-quality child care so we can provide children with the educational foundation they all deserve. We will advocate for these investments as the budget process continues. Stay up-to-date on how to advocate for these issues by signing-up to support Trying Together’s public policy agenda here.

Little girl with bunny.