2021-22 State Budget: Growth for Pre-k; Ignores Recommendations Prioritizing Child Care and Fails to Expand Evidence-based Home Visiting Services

HARRISBURG, PA (June 25, 2021) – The principal partners of Early Learning Pennsylvania (ELPA), a statewide coalition of advocates focused on supporting young Pennsylvanians from birth to age five, believes the commonwealth’s economic recovery hinges on helping working families by prioritizing greater state investments in high-quality pre-k, child care and evidence-based home visiting. ELPA operates four issue-based advocacy campaigns: Pre-K for PA, Start Strong PA, Childhood Begins at Home and Thriving PA. Reaction statements from three of these campaigns regarding the FY 2021-22 state budget follow:

PRE-K
“Pre-K for PA applauds the $25 million in new state funding for Pre-K Counts and $5 million for Head Start Supplemental Assistance as part of the 2021-22 PA State Budget. This funding continues the commonwealth’s tradition of expanding access to high-quality pre-k – providing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to more than 3,200 additional young learners.

“Research shows that high-quality pre-k benefits children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. A new study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill confirmed that the commonwealth’s investment in pre-k pays dividends for the children fortunate enough to access pre-k through the 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. Even with this budget increase, more than 100,000 eligible three- and four-year-olds still lack access to high-quality pre-k.”

CHILD CARE
“The General Assembly and the Wolf Administration unfortunately missed the opportunity to prioritize families who are struggling to return to work. Ignoring recommendations developed with input from over 1,000 child care providers and parents, Pennsylvania’s elected leadership has fallen significantly short on ensuring American Rescue Plan child care funds are used to help families find and afford high-quality child care and to stabilize the industry.

“Given that 70% of Pennsylvania children under the age of five had all adults in their household in the labor force prior to the pandemic, high-quality child care is an essential workforce support. That workforce must be able to return to work for Pennsylvania to recover from the pandemic’s economic devastation.

“We now call on the Wolf Administration to prioritize and implement our recommendations for Pennsylvania’s $1.2 billion in American Rescue Plan child care funding. With nearly 700 child care programs permanently closed and over 350 temporarily closed, families are struggling to find child care. Those child care providers that have managed to stay open are still incurring additional pandemic-related costs while operating significantly under capacity and are struggling to attract and retain teachers.

“Not only is there less child care capacity in the system, only 42% of certified child care capacity currently meets high-quality standards. And only 39% of infants and toddlers that receive subsidized care attend programs that have met high-quality standards. High-quality care and education mean safer, healthier children and are critical to maximizing the period of a child’s most rapid brain growth.

“Start Strong PA’s recommendations for American Rescue Plan child care funding will stabilize, strengthen and ultimately secure the child care industry. This industry is critical to the success of our economic recovery.”

EVIDENCE-BASED HOME VISITING
“On behalf of the pregnant women, children, and families who would benefit the most from evidence-based home visiting – especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic – Childhood Begins at Home is dismayed that there is no increase in the state budget for these voluntary services backed by decades of research.

“Without funding increases to reach more Pennsylvania families, the unmet need remains at a staggering 95%. The Community-Based Family Centers line will be level-funded, and the Nurse-Family Partnership line will receive a minimal increase to restore the line to its prior level due to a slight reduction resulting from the state using enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding last year.

“Throughout budget negotiations, policymakers emphasized the infusion of federal stimulus dollars to inform state spending decisions. Of the total amount of one-time state funds Pennsylvania received from the American Rescue Plan ($7.3 billion), home visiting gets less than .02% (or a paltry $1.3 million) through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. This funding has yet to be distributed to programs that received no aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is limited in its use and timeframe to spend these dollars.

“Only pennies on the dollar for evidence-based home visiting are coming in federally. It adds insult to injury that policymakers in the legislative and administrative branches did not step up and recognize constituents would benefit from the same services that have been a lifeline for so many during the last 15 months.

“While states’ use of the ARP funds is flexible, the federal stimulus funding for evidence-based home visiting would not even reach one family in each of Pennsylvania’s 253 legislative districts.

“From birth to age five, brain growth is rapid, learning is happening, and our coalition of advocates is committed to ensuring that families can access it in high-quality, developmentally appropriate settings. In Pennsylvania, funding has not been prioritized to ensure the resources are there to offer these irreplaceable opportunities, creating deep inequity among children and their families at a very early age. We, and our tens of thousands of supporters, will continue to urge lawmakers to invest in early learning boldly – it is an urgent necessity.”

Pre-K for PA launched in 2014 with the vision that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. Learn more at www.prekforpa.org.

Start Strong PA launched in 2019 to support healthy child development, working families, and the economy by increasing access to and affordability of high-quality child care programs for young children. Learn more at www.startstrongpa.org.

Childhood Begins At Home is a statewide campaign to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting and support public investments in the programs.  Learn more at www.childhoodbeginsathome.org.  


COVID-19: Home Visitors Are Here to Help

Staying connected to home visiting services can be a lifeline for families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Home visitors are a valuable source of information for families struggling through the pandemic, especially those who may not have family or other support networks. Home visitors are working through the pandemic to support families with young children.
Visit our Resources Page to Learn More»

What People Are Saying

”Without evidence-based home visiting, I would not be where I am today. The Family Support Center did more than help me get back on my feet; they gave me hope. “
Father who benefited from home visiting services with Family Check-Up
”As we know, a critical period of time in a child’s life where a significant impact (negative or positive) can be made on their development is birth through age 3. We also know that this age group (in fact up to age 5) is one of, if not, the most vulnerable population in society. Here in Montgomery County, our Office of Children and Youth continues to place tremendous focus on family engagement efforts to ensure that children are being adequately cared for by family in their homes and to avoid foster care placement whenever possible. That means embracing supportive programming that educates at-risk families on ways to avoid child abuse and neglect. It’s important to provide this type of support so all children in our county can live safe, happy and productive lives.“
Nadine Miller, Deputy Administrator, Resource Division, Office of Children and Youth, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
”A mother’s physical, emotional and mental health prior to pregnancy and birth play a crucial role in determining the outcome of a pregnancy and that child’s subsequent development. For young mothers, evidence-based home visiting can help ensure they get the proper care they need. In home visits, nurses and other trained professionals engage with a pregnant woman or mother, as well as her partner and other family members, educating them on the importance of regular well-child visits and helping parents to understand the important role that they themselves play in their child’s development.“
Dr. Robert Cicco, Pittsburgh Neonatologist, Allegheny County Medical Society President and the former President of the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
”Parents are a child's forever teacher. And, to do well, you need to be well.“
Susan Evans, Early Head Start
”From identifying postpartum depression to helping deal with substance use disorders, these programs empower families to make proactive, positive choices that prove beneficial to healthy development. The good news is that evidence-based home visiting programs can positively impact the lives of these young families, building confidence and imparting them with the tools necessary to overcome many challenges so they can successfully raise their children.“
Julie Mansfield, MSN, RN, manager with Nurse-Family Partnership
”As law enforcement officials, my colleagues and I are certainly tough on crime, but we also know that we can’t arrest and prosecute our way out of the crime problem. It is important for us to be proactive and help connect at-risk families and their children with proven supports. Every day law enforcement officials see firsthand the consequences of inadequate parenting and home lives. We are certainly not alone in believing that strong families are the foundation of our communities, and children from strong families have a greater chance of being healthy, productive and law-abiding citizens. Parents are, of course, their children’s primary teachers and influence. That’s why evidence-based home visiting programs are so vital.
Angela Mattis, Montour County District Attorney
”Children don't arrive with instruction manuals, but parents can learn to be confident in their child rearing practices with the support of family, friends and community services. Pennsylvania's 55 Parents as Teachers (PAT) home visiting programs work closely with families to build trusting relationships that address critical parenting behaviors and promote protective factors that support optimal child development. Many PAT families are young parents, face poverty and/or have other challenges that the certified parent educators help them navigate. Parents as Teachers, a family-centered, results-driven approach is a cost-effective solution for families in Pennsylvania.“
Karen Shanoski, M.Mgt. Partnerships Project Manager PA Parents as Teachers State Office
Cover Image: Childhood Begins at Home
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What People Are Saying

”Without evidence-based home visiting, I would not be where I am today. The Family Support Center did more than help me get back on my feet; they gave me hope. “
Father who benefited from home visiting services with Family Check-Up
”As we know, a critical period of time in a child’s life where a significant impact (negative or positive) can be made on their development is birth through age 3. We also know that this age group (in fact up to age 5) is one of, if not, the most vulnerable population in society. Here in Montgomery County, our Office of Children and Youth continues to place tremendous focus on family engagement efforts to ensure that children are being adequately cared for by family in their homes and to avoid foster care placement whenever possible. That means embracing supportive programming that educates at-risk families on ways to avoid child abuse and neglect. It’s important to provide this type of support so all children in our county can live safe, happy and productive lives.“
Nadine Miller, Deputy Administrator, Resource Division, Office of Children and Youth, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
”A mother’s physical, emotional and mental health prior to pregnancy and birth play a crucial role in determining the outcome of a pregnancy and that child’s subsequent development. For young mothers, evidence-based home visiting can help ensure they get the proper care they need. In home visits, nurses and other trained professionals engage with a pregnant woman or mother, as well as her partner and other family members, educating them on the importance of regular well-child visits and helping parents to understand the important role that they themselves play in their child’s development.“
Dr. Robert Cicco, Pittsburgh Neonatologist, Allegheny County Medical Society President and the former President of the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
”Parents are a child's forever teacher. And, to do well, you need to be well.“
Susan Evans, Early Head Start
”From identifying postpartum depression to helping deal with substance use disorders, these programs empower families to make proactive, positive choices that prove beneficial to healthy development. The good news is that evidence-based home visiting programs can positively impact the lives of these young families, building confidence and imparting them with the tools necessary to overcome many challenges so they can successfully raise their children.“
Julie Mansfield, MSN, RN, manager with Nurse-Family Partnership
”As law enforcement officials, my colleagues and I are certainly tough on crime, but we also know that we can’t arrest and prosecute our way out of the crime problem. It is important for us to be proactive and help connect at-risk families and their children with proven supports. Every day law enforcement officials see firsthand the consequences of inadequate parenting and home lives. We are certainly not alone in believing that strong families are the foundation of our communities, and children from strong families have a greater chance of being healthy, productive and law-abiding citizens. Parents are, of course, their children’s primary teachers and influence. That’s why evidence-based home visiting programs are so vital.
Angela Mattis, Montour County District Attorney
”Children don't arrive with instruction manuals, but parents can learn to be confident in their child rearing practices with the support of family, friends and community services. Pennsylvania's 55 Parents as Teachers (PAT) home visiting programs work closely with families to build trusting relationships that address critical parenting behaviors and promote protective factors that support optimal child development. Many PAT families are young parents, face poverty and/or have other challenges that the certified parent educators help them navigate. Parents as Teachers, a family-centered, results-driven approach is a cost-effective solution for families in Pennsylvania.“
Karen Shanoski, M.Mgt. Partnerships Project Manager PA Parents as Teachers State Office
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