April 24, 2023

Westmoreland County Chamber Hosts Summit to Address Child Care Crisis

Area lawmakers, child care providers, and members of the business community met at Westmoreland County Community College on Thursday, April 20 to discuss concerns about a historic staffing shortage within the child care sector and its impact on the economy and working families.

About the Summit

Entitled, “Supporting Our Workforce: Child Care in Westmoreland County,” the event was organized by Start Strong PA and the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with:

It featured several speakers, including Pennsylvania State Representatives George Dunbar and Eric Davanzo, General Manager of Live! Casino Pittsburgh Sean Sullivan, Queens College Economist Dr. Clive Belfield, Executive Director of Trying Together Cara Ciminillo, and CEO of the Greensburg YMCA Suzanne Printz, all of whom detailed new research regarding the impacts of the child care crisis.

Summit Highlights

  • Sullivan noted impact that limited child care options has on the workforce, saying, “When parents don’t have reliable, affordable, and quality child care, their work suffers which has an impact for both the employee and employer.”
  • Belfield, who conducted the research for the recent ReadyNation report which revealed that gaps in the Pennsylvania child care system cost employers and taxpayers about $6.65 billion annually, cited the report. He explained that 60% of parents surveyed reported being late for work, leaving work early, or missing full days of work due to child care problems. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they quit due to child care struggles.
  • Ciminillo referenced a new Start Strong PA study showing the average child care teacher in Pennsylvania earns $12.43 per hour or less than $25,844 per year.Our research shows that 50 percent of early learning educators say they do not plan to or are unsure of whether they will remain in their jobs in the next five years due to low wages,” Ciminillo said. 
  • Printz noted that child care providers can’t just raise teacher wages because families are already struggling to afford the costs of care.
  • Participants referenced the dire impact that low wages are having on the availability of care and a recent Start Strong PA survey that revealed more than 3,600 open staff positions across the state, resulting in more than 1,500 closed classrooms with a combined waitlist of more than 35,000 children.
  • Participants discussed a series of action steps for both policy makers and the private sector to better ensure affordable high-quality child care for Pennsylvania’s working families. Private sector actions included flexible working schedules, child care referrals, tuition assistance programs, dependent care flexible spending accounts, and even on-site care. For policy makers, participants stressed the urgent need for the Commonwealth to help implement and pay for a wage scale for child care teachers that will help providers better compete in the current labor market.

Learn More

To learn more, visit the the Start Strong PA website.


March 2, 2022

Survey: Chronic Child Care Staffing Shortages Persist, Threaten Economy

To understand the depth of the ongoing child care crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has been surveying thousands of programs across states and settings. Current survey results show that federal and state relief funds have provided critical support for stabilizing child care programs.

NAEYC Pandemic Survey

NAEYC’s newest survey results, completed in January 2022 by nearly 5,000 respondents working in child care centers and family child care homes, shows that two-thirds of respondents reported experiencing a staffing shortage that affected their ability to serve families. The survey also showed that stabilization grants provided through the American Rescue Plan were critical in helping child care facilities stay open, including during the recent COVID-19 Omicron wave, even if providers were simultaneously unable to serve all families who needed care.


  • 75% of respondents reported that the end of stabilization grants would have a negative or highly negative effect on their programs.

  • Of the respondents who said they knew enough about Build Back Better’s investments in child care and pre-k to answer the question, 89% agreed that it would “secure the future of our program,” including 86% of respondents from family child care homes and 85% of respondents from faith-based programs.

  • 28% of respondents reported that they are definitely or maybe considering leaving their program or closing their child care home in 2022. This comes on top of recent findings from Child Care Aware of America indicating that between December 2019 and March 2021—during the pandemic but before ARP funds started to go out—8,889 child care centers and 6,957 licensed family child care homes were permanently closed.

More Information

For access to prior survey data and analyses:


December 8, 2021

Report Highlights Home-Based Child Care as Key to Economic Recovery

Trying Together, Allegheny County child care providers, business leaders, and advocates joined representatives of state legislative offices and members of the community on December 7, 2021 to release a new report from the nonprofit ReadyNation on the importance of protecting and strengthening home-based child care – calling such actions essential to supporting our state’s working parents and to bolstering our economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.


The report, “Home-Based Child Care: A Key to Keeping the Pennsylvania Workforce and Economy Strong,” documents that the number of family child care homes has dropped 32 percent across Pennsylvania in recent years. In fact, almost half of the 1,000+ child care providers that have closed permanently since the onset of the pandemic have been home-based providers. The report cautions that given the current overall shortage of child care, particularly for infants, this decrease in home-based child care availability is especially problematic.

The panel discussion focused on the need to include home-based child care as part of state and federal efforts to stabilize and strengthen the overall child care system. Noting that home-based child care is frequently overlooked when discussing solutions to the present child care crisis, the report identifies reforms focused on quality caregiving and sustainability. Specifically, the report recommends:

  1. Enhanced mentorship opportunities for home-based providers;
  2. Revising the Keystone STARS Program to recognize key differences among home-based providers and ensure that high-quality home-based providers can more readily become rated as high-quality;
  3. Increasing compensation to cover the actual cost of high-quality care through subsidy rates and reform the reimbursement rates for home-based high-quality care;
  4. Stabilizing the budgets of home-based child care providers through participation in programs like Infant Toddler Contracted Slots; and, 
  5. Engaging in public education and promotion efforts statewide on the importance of high-quality child care across all settings.

More Information

To learn more about the panel discussion, read this news release or view the recording.