How To Start A Daycare In Pennsylvania

How To Start A Daycare In Pennsylvania – The recession, caused by low wages and reduced benefits, has effects that go beyond the classroom and affect everyone.

Kim Ramsey has closed a Montgomery County daycare center due to staffing shortages. More THOMAS HENGGE / Staff Photographer

How To Start A Daycare In Pennsylvania

How To Start A Daycare In Pennsylvania

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Hundreds Of Pa. Child Care Centers Have Closed, And Some Fear It Will Get Worse

HARRISBURG – With the words “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” scrawled on the wall, a baby’s giggles and occasional cries emanate from the nursery at Willow School. But mattresses on slopes do not have small heads after a while.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the room was a day care center for eight children and needed the most staff – one for every four little girls – to change diapers, make sure they were sleeping and everything was safe.

The room was never profitable, but those kids walked in the door, said Principal Kim Ramsey. Families are often tied to the Montgomery County center, which he founded in 2012, and as children grow, they move to larger rooms that require fewer workers.

20 months after the first reported cases of the coronavirus were reported in Pennsylvania, Ramsey still hasn’t opened a daycare with several others. It has short opening hours, opens in the morning and closes in the evening, and can cater for fewer children. Earlier this month, its enrollment stood at 55 children, down from about 110 before the pandemic.

Early Childhood Education Covid 19 Funding

Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money have helped many of Pennsylvania’s 6,800 child care programs deal with stay-at-home orders, declining enrollment and rising cleaning and security costs. . With a nearly $2 trillion welfare spending plan moving through Congress, change may be on the horizon.

But right now, an industry critical to Pennsylvania’s economic recovery is facing a severe shortage of workers because stimulus money is not seen as a permanent source of wage increases. In a survey released Sept. 1, more than half of more than 100 Pennsylvania programs reported closing at least one class. About 26,000 children were waiting.

In August 2021, the state had 7,100 fewer child care workers than two years earlier — a 15% drop. Several thousand more workers entered childcare jobs in September and October, but the industry is still growing more slowly than the rest of Pennsylvania.

How To Start A Daycare In Pennsylvania

The inability to attract and retain workers has serious consequences outside the classroom, as parents adjust their work schedules to accommodate reduced hours and make difficult decisions about how to care for their children without losing wages. If they are forced to go out of business, it can affect business performance and help the supply chain.

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“What happens?” the question arises. said Erica Peterkin, a 37-year-old mother whose family pays about $1,000 a month for child care in Bucks County.

For the past year, Peterkin and her husband, a truck driver, have had to bridge gaps in child care coverage by relying on multiple people to bring their children to school and to child care programs.

Earlier this year, Peterkin learned that her daughter’s child care center would open at 7 a.m., a half-hour later than usual and the same time as her shift as an emergency room clerk. He had federal protections that allowed him to work shorter hours.

Now, on weekdays, Peterkin takes her 6-year-old son to his preschool program, which opens at 6:30 a.m. Then she goes to her daughter’s center and waits for the doors to open. He arrives at work at 7:30 a.m. and hopes the center doesn’t receive any unexpected news of coronavirus cases.

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A big reason why caregivers are out of work: low pay. Preschool teachers in Pennsylvania earned a median wage of less than $14 an hour in 2019, and the median wage for child care workers was even lower at less than $11 an hour. That’s partly because many child care providers operate on razor-thin edges.

The owner of an Allegheny County center that wants to reopen a preschool program said it pays Spotlight PA about $12 an hour. According to the Erie County center’s director, low wages mean some employees must rely on public benefits. The owner of a center in Westmoreland County said Burger King recently hired his 16-year-old son for $13 an hour, about $3 more than he was offering a new hire.

In Warren County, Brandlyn Lyon, 38, returned to childcare this month after losing her job teaching English as a second language online. But the low salary kept him away.

How To Start A Daycare In Pennsylvania

“It’s very emotionally draining,” Lyon said of child care. “It wasn’t worth it to me to push myself for $12 an hour.”

Child Care Programs

Expenses can compete with mortgage or rent payments, forcing some parents to decide whether it’s worth spending days away from their children, only to have a large portion of their paycheck go toward childcare. Low-income families receive state aid, but that often burdens providers and doesn’t cover the true cost of care, said Jane DeBelle, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children.

The coronavirus pandemic has complicated the situation. Stay-at-home orders have forced many businesses to close, and childcare centers have seen enrollment drop. Speakers also raised security and cleaning costs.

In legislation passed last year, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg approved spending about $525 million in federal money to support child care in Pennsylvania, according to Start Strong PA, a child care advocacy group.

The goal was to stabilize the industry so that parents could return to work. And by some measure it worked. Overall, Pennsylvania had about 280 fewer child care providers in October 2021 than when the pandemic began, state data show. Industry leaders believe that this number would have been much higher without aid.

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Licensed child care centers—programs like Ramsey in Montgomery County that can serve many children—do better than other types, especially smaller providers that operate from their homes. These smaller providers often serve suburban and rural areas, offer non-traditional hours and are situations where some families are more comfortable taking in newborns and young children, said Tracy Campani, director of child development and undersecretary of state for elementary education.

Campanini said it’s unclear whether these providers are closing due to industry challenges or whether they have special concerns about bringing children home because of the coronavirus.

Among open programs, staffing shortages prevent them from serving as many students as possible before the pandemic.

How To Start A Daycare In Pennsylvania

“Child care providers are really willing to go back and enroll families who are looking for care, but they’re having a hard time recruiting,” Campanini said.

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In a survey of 1,163 child care programs in Pennsylvania, 92% of respondents reported staffing shortages and 51% of respondents reported closing at least one classroom. The survey was conducted between late August and early September with members of the Start Strong PA campaign, which includes the Debal group.

On a recent night, parents came to Kiddsville Junction Childcare and Preschool in southern York County to pick up their children. Inside the center, just a few miles from the Maryland border, classrooms feature train-themed titles such as Expensive Freight, Little Ships, and Little Engines.

Lauren Dale, a 25-year-old dental assistant and single mother, said she struggled to find childcare a few months ago before sending her twin daughters to Kidsville Junction in Stewartstown. Many places no longer accept children, he said.

“It was a very difficult and very expensive time because I had to send them somewhere at a higher price,” Dale said. “Everything looks good now.”

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Earlier this fall, federal stimulus money allowed Kidsville Junction to expand its hours of operation. He returned at 6:30 p.m. Time to stop the disease before it starts.

“It means everything to me,” said Dakota James, 32, who works at an auto parts distributor. “It’s unusual for me because it’s a full day.”

Other parents said they appreciated the extra hours, which meant they could work more, have extra time to work, or no longer have to worry about being late for pick-up. But according to Cheryl Coenan, the center’s owner, staffing is a constant struggle.

How To Start A Daycare In Pennsylvania

“It’s been hard to keep them happy because now there’s a lot of work with extra cleaning and extra everything,” Coenan said. “Parents are stressed. Employees are also stressed.”

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A few months ago, Quinnan lost two employees at convenience stores: one from Router and the other from Royal Farms. He is organized. Two years ago, the standard starting rate for someone without a college degree was $10 an hour at Kidsville Junction. Now it’s $15

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