PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – childcare providers ensure that our little ones learn safely, actively and actively.
But more than 600 closed their doors nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, unable to take in the infants and toddlers of parents who were still at work.
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Proponents now want to build a stronger childcare system that will benefit both teachers and parents. With more than $ 1 billion in aid up for grabs, proponents are asking state lawmakers to spend the summer thinking about how best to spend that money.
“I think we need to fund early learning the way we fund public education,” said Ruby Martin, chairman of the Pennsylvania Child Care Association.
Martin attended a round table discussion on the matter on Friday hosted by Pennsylvania Senate candidate Val Arkoosh.
“If we didn’t have funding from the CARES Act, our doors would have been closed, and I know many programs across the state have,” Martin said. “I think it is important to know that we cannot be sloppy and of high quality.”
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Chelsea Hallinan calls her childcare job worthwhile, just not financially.
“Early childhood staff have the same qualifications as the school district staff, but they are treated as babysitters, not as generators,” said Hallinan of Begin With Us Child Care.
“The average hourly wage for a child teacher in Pennsylvania is $ 10.69 an hour, and these teachers often have bachelor’s degrees,” said Jen DeBell, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children.
DeBell wants the American Rescue Plan’s $ 1.2 billion award to help improve the state’s childcare infrastructure. Start Strong PA has presented a five-part plan to state lawmakers in the hopes that they will incorporate the recommendations into the final budget negotiations.
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The deadline for finalizing the budget is June 30th.