Child Care Cliff: Stories From Parents and Providers Highlight the Devastating Impact of the Federal Child Care Funding Cliff

June 21, 2023

Testimonials from Pennsylvania and Across the Country Demonstrate that Quality, Affordable Child Care Will Become Even More Scarce as Pandemic-Era Federal Funding Expires

Stories Reinforce Newly Released Data Showing 152,048 Pennsylvania Children Are Expected To Lose Child Care and 2,848 Pennsylvania Child Care Programs Are Expected to Close as a Result of Expiring Funding

Harrisburg, PA Today, the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy (CFFE) released a storybook highlighting the devastating impact of the upcoming federal child care funding cliff. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government made unprecedented investments to help families access affordable, reliable child care, most notably via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This money kept desperately needed child care facilities open and reduced costs for many families. Unfortunately, investments in child care under ARPA are set to expire absent further action. The stories released today illustrate the devastating impact this loss of funding will have for child care providers and families. 

New data released today by The Century Foundation (TCF) reinforces the magnitude of this crisis. Across Pennsylvania, 152,048 children are projected to lose their child care. 2,848 of child care programs are projected to close entirely and, as a result, parents are projected to lose $412 million as a result of having to cut their hours or leave the workforce entirely. Tomorrow, exactly 100 days before federal child care funding will begin to sunset, TCF will host a briefing on this research. 

The story of Shineal Hunter, a fourth-generation early child care educator and owner of Family Circle Academy in Philadelphia, illustrates the challenges providers across the country are facing:

“…Shineal said that without relief funds she received during the pandemic from legislation like the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which allowed her to cover overhead costs and retain her staff, her child care center would have closed. 

With the impending expiration of these funds, Shineal is concerned about the continued sustainability of her small business. Based on her lived experience, she knows that the child care industry requires more than just a temporary bailout – sustainable, permanent funding is crucial. Rising prices of essential goods and rent pose significant challenges. Shineal worries that she may have to reduce staff, turn away families, shorten hours, or reduce services, impacting enrollment and financial goals. 

If centers like hers have to shut down, a lack of childcare options hinders parents’ ability to work. Additionally, the industry faces a staffing crisis that cannot be resolved without increased wages for workers to have a living wage themselves.”

“Too many Pennsylvania families can’t afford quality child care, and with the approaching federal funding cliff, it’s about to get even worse,” said Pennsylvania State Director Rachele Fortier. “When pandemic-era funding for the child care industry expires this fall, child care providers will be forced to raise prices, cut hours, and maybe even close down. It’s a tough situation for hardworking families who will have to make impossible choices between caring for their young children or going to work. Our lawmakers need to focus on working families and make permanent, sustainable investments in child care.”