News

February 9, 2021

A Deep Dive on the Pennsylvania Budget

Join PA Schools Work partners on Tuesday, February 9 at noon for their next Lunch and Learn webinar, “A Deep Dive on the Budget.” PA School Advocates will take a deep dive into the details of Governor Tom Wolf’s 2021-22 budget proposal and what the investment in public education would mean for school districts.

Registration

To register, complete the online registration.

News

February 4, 2021

2021-22 Pennsylvania Budget Proposal Response

On February 3, during his 2021-22 budget proposal address, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf put an emphasis on Pennsylvania families.

As a member of Early Learning Pennsylvania (ELPA), a statewide coalition of advocates focused on supporting young Pennsylvanians from birth to age five, Trying Together commends the governor’s continued commitment to growing state funding for pre-k. However, additional effort is needed to boost the availability of quality child care and home visiting services that are essential to Pennsylvania’s working families and our economic recovery.

ELPA operates three issue-based advocacy campaigns: Pre-K for PA, Start Strong PA, and Childhood Begins at Home.

Governor Wolf’s state budget proposal included:

Pre-k

  • $25 million in additional funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program.
  • $5 million in additional funding for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. Together, this $30 million expansion would serve approximately 3,270 additional young children. Currently, more than 106,000 eligible three- and four-year-old children do not have access to high-quality publicly funded pre-k programs.

In a press release, ELPA states, “During a difficult budget year, Governor Wolf deserves credit for his continued support of expanded access to publicly funded, high-quality pre-k in PA. The $30 million funding increase for these programs in the proposed 2021-22 PA budget ($25 million for Pre-K Counts; $5 million for Head Start State Supplemental Assistance Program) continues the tradition of expanding this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to thousands more three- and four-year-olds.

“A new study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill confirmed that the Commonwealth’s investment in pre-k is paying dividends for the children fortunate enough to access pre-k through Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts program. In language and math skills, the study showed that these kids outperformed their kindergarten peers who did not enjoy access – an advantage that equated to four to five months of learning gains, which is a substantial difference in development at that age and a meaningful advantage during the COVID-19 era.”

Child Care

  • $87 million in existing federal child care funds to increase child care base rates.

Base rates for CCW reimbursements will be increased to the 40th percentile of the market rate for child care in the provider’s region, up from approximately the 25th percentile where most of Pennsylvania’s child care providers currently sit. This change brings Pennsylvania closer to the federal government’s recommendation of reimbursing at the 75th percentile.

Trying Together and the ELPA campaigns commend the Wolf administration for this proposed change, however, the child care industry needs an additional boost.

“Pennsylvania’s working families struggled to find and afford high-quality child care prior to the pandemic. Today’s economic downturn has only exacerbated this problem,” the ELPA press release states. “Start Strong PA urges Governor Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly to address these child care needs by quickly utilizing federal funds to serve 3,000 additional eligible infants and toddlers in high-quality slots through contracts, which provides greater financial stability to providers.”

Evidence-based Home Visiting

  • Level funding for home visiting.

The current public health crisis, isolation, stress, and unemployment have made home visiting more essential than ever. Trying Together and the ELPA campaigns hope to work collaboratively with the administration and legislature to expand evidence-based home visiting services to match that commitment with the resources to make it a reality.

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.