February 1, 2021

Base Rates for CCW Reimbursements to Increase March 1

On February 1, 2021, Governor Tom Wolf announced an increase to base rates paid to child care providers participating in Child Care Works (CCW), Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program.



Effective March 1, 2021, 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. This increase equates to an additional $28.8 million in federal funding for the 2020-21 fiscal year and $87.2 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

This change will also regionalize rate calculation based on Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) regions rather than calculating rates by county for each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Pennsylvania is currently the only state that does not regionalize rates. Regionalization of rates creates a larger pool to more accurately represent rates across provider types licensed by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning in each region rather than calculating rates by county with limited sample sizes and provider type representation.

No provider will see their rates decrease with this new structure. The average increase across all regions is $4.59. Every three years, a child care market rate survey is conducted to guide rate setting. The last Market Rate Survey was completed in 2019 and released in 2020.

Why It Matters

“Child care is essential for a functioning economy. Investments in this industry benefit us in two different ways. They support communities and the families that rely on care to join the workforce every day and nurture the growth and development of young minds as they prepare for grade school and later long-term success,” said Gov. Wolf.  “Increasing base reimbursement rates is an investment in the dedicated professionals that do this work every day and for countless parents and children. We all seek to weather the challenges created by the pandemic and the recovery ahead.”

According to the announcement, nearly two-thirds of children enrolled in CCW are in a lower-rated child care provider, and higher quality providers serve fewer CCW families. By providing increased base payments for care for children enrolled in CCW, more child care operators will increase operating margins allowing them to potentially retain more highly qualified staff and engage in enhanced quality activities.

“Child Care Works makes quality, affordable child care accessible for working families across our commonwealth,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “By investing in base rates, we invest in quality across our child care industry – an investment that will help providers grow, develop, and retain staff and continue to improve services and care for our youngest Pennsylvanians.”

What is Child Care Works?

Child Care Works is Pennsylvania’s subsidized child care program that helps low-income families pay their child care tuition and fees. To be eligible, families must earn 200 percent or less of the federal poverty guidelines at application and meet work or job training requirements. Eligible families are able to choose to enroll at any participating child care provider, which can be impacted by convenience, transportation, cost, and working hours. Families enrolled in CCW pay a co-pay, and providers that participate in CCW are reimbursed a set base rate per child from the state with the opportunity for add-on funding.

More Information

For more information, read Governor Wolf’s full announcement.


November 17, 2020

Provide Your Feedback: Subsidized Child Care Eligibility

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) are accepting public comments through December 14, 2020 for proposed changes to the current subsidized child care eligibility regulations.


Proposed changes to the subsidized child care eligibility regulations at 55 Pa. Code Chapter 3041 might impact families, children, and early childhood education providers. The proposed changes include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • expanded eligibility period of 12 months;
    • expanded eligibility to cover hours the parent or caretaker requires sleep following completion of overnight work shift;
    • no changes to the amounts of subsidy and co-payment for the duration of the eligibility period, unless to the family’s benefit;
    • abolished the requirement for the parent or caretaker to pay an advanced co-pay prior to enrollment;
    • children who turn 13 during the eligibility period will continue to receive the subsidy until the eligibility period ends;
    • codifying payment practices permitting tiered reimbursement for providers who voluntarily exceed the basic health and safety requirements;
    • codifying payment practices based on enrollment and not attendance, to include increasing the number of permitted absences from 25 to 50 per fiscal year;
    • after five consecutive days absent, the child maintains eligibility, but the enrollment is suspended until the child returns to care; and
    • establishment of waiver provisions and periods of presumptive eligibility for particular populations, including victims of domestic violence and families experiencing homelessness.

How To Submit A Comment

All public comments must be submitted in writing by December 14, 2020. All comments, suggestions, or objections should reference the regulation number, section, and subsection. Comments can be submitted using the following methods:

    • fax your comments to 717.214.6575; or
    • mail your comments to:Michael Ordonez
      Office of Child Development and Early Learning
      333 Market Street, 6th Floor
      Harrisburg, PA 17126

If you would like to receive a response, please include your contact information when submitting.

More Information

For information about the current regulations, visit the Pennsylvania Code website. To view the latest issue, read Volume 50 Number 46.

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September 8, 2020

Policy Change: Parents Caring for Their Own Children in Child Care

OCDEL’s Bureau of Policy and Professional Development recently released Announcement 20 #15 which explains changes to the policy regarding parents and caregivers caring for their own children in a child care setting during the COVID-19 pandemic-related Proclamation of Disaster Emergency. This policy change is effective as of September 1, 2020. Read below to learn more.


For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic-related Proclamation of Disaster Emergency, the current policy will be revised to allow for parents and caregivers to provide care for their own children in a child care facility. This change allows a parent or caretaker who is a teacher, assistant teacher, or aide in a classroom at the same child care facility where their children are enrolled to have their children in their classroom.

Parents and caregivers will be able to receive subsidized child care payments for their children as long as there is another paid teacher, assistant teacher, or aide present in the classroom for a majority of the day. Additionally, there must be at least one other child in the classroom, that is not the child of the parent or caregiver, for which the parent or caregiver is caring for.

More Information

For more information, read the full announcement.


July 10, 2020

OCDEL Releases an “Opening a Child Care Facility” Toolkit

To support individuals interested in opening their own child care program, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) released the “Opening a Child Care Facility in Pennsylvania” toolkit that features details on the step-by-step process of requirements and regulations, obtaining a child care certification, and more!

Featured Topics

In the toolkit, OCDEL features information on the following topics and more:

    • child care requirements and regulations;
    • types of child care facilities;
    • the process to obtain a child care certification;
    • the types of clearances needed for staff;
    • health and safety requirements, including fire safety;
    • the role of child care subsidies; and
    • financial considerations and supports for operating a child care business (private pay, Child Care Works, Pre-K Counts, etc.).

Download the Toolkit

For more information on how to open a child care facility in Pennsylvania, download the full toolkit.


February 26, 2020

Making the Census Count for All PA Kids | Webinar

Did you know there is an official 2020 Census song? Or that Sesame Street’s Count von Count is sharing the message about the importance of responding to the Census? Do you know how much federal funding Pennsylvania missed over the past 10 years because of undercounting in the last Census? Join the Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) for their webinar on March 11 to learn about all of these topics and more! 


The federal government uses census data to help allocate over $800 billion a year in federal funds to key programs that serve children and families. When we miss young children in the census, our communities miss out on funding for public programs for much of their childhood. During this webinar, you will learn more about what you can do to encourage families in your early learning program to participate in the 2020 Census.


Registrations must be submitted by noon on March 10, 2020. To register, please visit the event webpage.

More Information

For questions, contact Maureen Murphy at 717.657.9000, extension 107.

*Information provided by PACCA


November 8, 2019

Pennsylvania Announces 2019 Market Rate Survey

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) invites all Pennsylvania certified child care providers to participate in the 2019 Market Rate Survey.


Every three years, states conduct a Market Rate Survey (MRS) to update information regarding the prices child care providers charge families. With the last official MRS conducted in 2016, OCDEL invites all certified child care providers in Pennsylvania to submit their published private pay rates. By providing this information, child care providers help OCDEL paint a more accurate picture of child care prices in Pennsylvania and will provide an important database to compare private pay prices with the Child Care Works reimbursement base rates.

How to Participate

The survey is available online from October 7 through December 30, 2019 within the PELICAN Provider Self-Service Portal. Participation will require a username and password to enter. For assistance on enrolling in Provider Self-Service or updating your child care prices if you do not have access to Provider Self-Service, contact your local Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

Information from all child care providers is important, even if your private pay prices have not changed. If your prices remained the same, please update the “effective date” within the Provider Self-Service Portal. Any changes made between October 7 and December 30, 2019 will be included.

Click here for instructions on how to complete the Survey using Provider Self-Service.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Market Rate Survey?

In order to comply with federal requirements and continue to draw down federal dollars from the Child Care Development Block Grant for the operation of the Child Care Works (CCW) child care subsidy program, OCDEL is required to complete a periodic Market Rate Survey (MRS). The MRS collects information from all regulated child care providers about their published private pay rates. Providers should participate in the MRS and confirm or report updates to their private pay rates using Provider Self Service (PSS) or, if not enrolled in PSS, by contacting their Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC).

What does the term “market rate” mean?

The “market rate” is interpreted as the rate which families are asked to pay, and which is published in program literature. The market rate does not reflect any discounts.

Will I be audited for updating my published rates?

Probably not. OCDEL has required verification in the past, and ELRCs have on occasion called a sampling of providers to check, but this is not the plan for this year’s MRS. However, providers should still only share published rates that they can verify if needed, and is the rate charged to most families.

What qualifies as a “discount?”

“Discounts” reflect allowances for families to pay a lower rate. For example, Comcast advertises its rate to clients, but frequently offers specials and discounts for loyal customers and new clients. Child care providers who typically charge $100 but who can offer discounts and specials to lower the price to $80 should still report their rate as $100. The MRS is not designed to capture any discounts that individual providers may choose to offer; it captures ONLY a provider’s published private pay rate.

What do they mean by “published?”

“Publishing” includes your website, your family handbook, any written contracts, or the rate visible on COMPASS.

What is the Child Care Works (CCW) reimbursement rate?

The Child Care Works (CCW) reimbursement rate is the rate that providers are reimbursed by the state for providing care to children who are eligible for CCW. This rate is based on the current market rate as provided through the MRS and is determined in part during the appropriations process. Because many providers also serve children who are not eligible for CCW reimbursement, providers must maintain a separate market rate for private pay families, and report this rate when completing their MRS rather than the CCW reimbursement rate.

Why participate in the Market Rate Survey?

It is important that each provider updates their private pay rates so that OCDEL has the necessary data to consider future Child Care Works base rate increases.

Learn More

To learn more, view the full announcement or contact your local ELRC.

*Information provided by OCDEL


July 15, 2019

Cliff Effect Public Service Announcement Seeks Focus Group

Circles Greater Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development are seeking individuals who are willing to be interviewed and recorded for a Public Service Announcement that will raise awareness on the Cliff Effect. Participants selected will be compensated.


The Cliff Effect impacts individuals who are:

    • working, but still eligible for certain subsidies such as Section 8 or public housing, Child Care Assistance, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and more
    • at risk of losing benefits because of an increase in income
    • faced with choosing between a raise/increased income or receiving benefits

Available Sessions

There are two available session dates:

    • Thursday, July 18, 6 – 8 p.m.
      Carnegie Library East Liberty | 130 S. Whitfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
    • Saturday, July 20, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
      Gallery on Penn | 5937 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206


To register for the Cliff Effect groups, complete this form.

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