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Staff Shortages Are Creating a Child Care Crisis | WDIY Local News

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A recent survey conducted by the Policy Lab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia illustrates the staffing crisis at hundreds of Pennsylvania child care programs.

The survey was done in connection with Start Strong PA, a statewide collaboration aimed at increasing access to and affordability of high-quality child care.

Findings of the survey show nearly 26,000 more children across the state could attend child care programs if they were fully staffed. The survey also reports almost 2,400 open positions at child care centers, and that these unfilled positions have caused around 930 classrooms to be closed. Providers’ inability to fill these spots is also having a direct impact on the quality of their programming.

Numbers in the survey only account for a fraction of Pennsylvania’s child care programs.

Livable wages are one of the most important factors in filling workforce demands – a bar that hasn’t been met in recent years. Although incentives were previously offered through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, they did little to impact recruitment and retain staff.

Common turnaround in positions also means less qualified staff, as programs are constantly filling openings with less experienced candidates while those with more experience shift to the elementary level for better pay and benefits.

Denise Storer, the Executive Director of a program in Clarion and Jefferson Counties, said that two centers in her area closed their doors in a six month period. She emphasized that “centers can’t keep waiting for help, doors are closing now.”

Start Strong PA thanked the Shapiro Administration for making child care more affordable for families, but emphasized that this doesn’t fill gaps in the workforce. They’re urging Pennsylvania lawmakers to eliminate barriers to quality programming.

James is the News and Public Affairs Director for WDIY. He reports on stories in the Lehigh Valley and across the state which impact the region, along with managing WDIY's volunteers who help create the station's diverse line-up of public affairs programs.
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