April 29, 2024

Trying Together Exec Director Touts Importance of Child Care Access on Our Region’s Business

Trying Together Executive Director Cara Ciminillo was featured on WPXI’s Our Region’s Business segment on Sunday, April 28. Ciminillo discussed the importance of child care access after the issue recently topped a survey from the Allegheny County Executive’s office.

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During the segment, WPXI’s Bill Flanagan noted that a lack of access to affordable child care could be the biggest barrier to building a workforce pipeline in the region. Ciminillo joined Kendra Ross, Director of Social Impact at Duolingo, and Dan DeBone, President & CEO of the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce, to discuss the issue.

Ciminillo said Trying Together works to support child care workers in the field as well as improve quality and advocate on their behalf.

“The crisis existed before the (COVID-19) pandemic, but the pandemic really just squeezed it,” she said. “All the other sectors have been able to move up their wages, but child care is really limited in its ability to do that. We know this is because families can’t afford more. The average infant-toddler child care slot is $12,000 per year. So, you can’t put more of those costs on families – they’re struggling already.”

Ciminillo said the provider workforce doesn’t bring in enough money from state subsidies to augment that revenue formula.

“The tax credit is great, but if you have 100% of the tax credit but you don’t have the staff to support the children who need the care, you can’t use the tax credit,” she said. “It’s really important that we invest in recruitment and retention of the workforce.”

Ross said Duolingo was trying to provide grant money for child care organizations that don’t have enough resources. DeBone said the chamber of commerce advocates for legislation to help early child care programs.

Last year, Trying Together partnered with Duolingo, the Early Excellence Project, and Candor & Co in the creation of a new program called “Early Learners First.” The program’s goal is to strengthen and enhance Pittsburgh’s early education system by investing in local child care programs. Duolingo, headquartered in East Liberty, pledged $1 million to the program.

Trying Together also is a member of the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce and has partnered with the chamber to host informational sessions about the impact child care has on the economy.

Affordable Child Care Access Tops Survey

In the recent All in Allegheny Community Survey, increasing access to affordable child care and care for older adults to make it easier for workers and people participating in workforce training programs ranked first. The Allegheny County Executive’s office invited county residents to share their ideas, priorities, and needs with County Executive Sara Innamorato’s office through the survey. 

According to the survey results, affordable child or family care options was the top priority for 50.8% of all respondents. Other top issues included reduced-fare public transit, the creation of good-paying jobs, and protecting worker’s rights.

To listen to what Ciminallo had to say, watch the Our Region’s Business segment. For more information on Trying Together’s advocacy regarding access to child care, visit our Public Policy Agenda page.