April 16, 2024

Early Learning PA Coalition Advocates for 2024-25 State Budget Priorities

The principal partners of Early Learning Pennsylvania (ELPA) are calling on state policymakers to support investments in evidence-based, high-quality early care, education, and health services.

ELPA is focused on supporting young Pennsylvanians from birth to age five. Trying Together is a partner of the statewide coalition of advocates.

The coalition is urging state policymakers to make investments in child care, pre-k, and early intervention. 

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From birth to age five, children’s brains make millions of neural connections every second, forming brain architecture for life. At no other time in a human’s life will the brain develop at this speed or with such intricacy. This period is the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior, and health depend. 

Pittsburgh-based early childhood nonprofit Trying Together and their ELPA partners are calling for state policymakers to maximize the potential of these first five years through investments in early care and education programs in the 2024-2025 budget. 

Budget Requests

The budget priorities from ELPA for the 2024-25 final state budget include:

  • Supporting the Shapiro administration’s proposal to increase subsidy rates to the 75th percentile of the current price families pay for child care services. This will help alleviate rising facility, food, utility, and supply costs for providers participating in Child Care Works.
  • Investing $284 million in new and recurring state funding to implement a child care teacher recruitment and retention initiative. This will help alleviate an ongoing staffing crisis that is causing classrooms and entire programs to close and leave working families without access to child care. The funding would provide monthly payments to providers maintaining a subsidy agreement with the state. It would be restricted for initiatives that would help retain and recruit staff such as monthly wage increases, hiring bonuses, benefit packages, or retention bonuses for staff staying for a certain length of time or achieving credentials or degrees.
  • Supporting a proposed investment of $30 million in Pre-K Counts to increase the per-child rate to help address workforce challenges and inflationary pressures. For the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, a proposed $2.7 million investment to the per-child rate should be examined so that it has parity to the Pre-K Counts rate increase. To achieve this, the needed investment should be $8.8 million in the Head Start Supplemental Assistance line.
  • Supporting, at minimum, the administration’s proposed $16.6 million increase that will serve an additional 3,000 children and their families. This is a first step in a broader solution that includes a long-needed rate adjustment for early intervention providers and that would serve additional children. Additional support would help to address such issues as workforce shortages and achieving equitable enrollment as well as moving to the coaching model and addressing the growing needs of families across the state.

Trying Together and other partners of ELPA will continue to advocate for these investments as the budget process continues through June 20. Stay up-to-date on how to advocate for these issues by signing-up to get public policy updates from Trying Together.