HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Officials from Pennsylvania's Office of Child Development and Early Learning recently completed a listening tour to engage and listen to stakeholders and families on the proposed state plan for implementing the requirements of the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). In all, approximately 130 people attended four public hearings in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and King of Prussia, and Philadelphia.
The CCBDG is one of the primary federal funding sources for monitoring regulated child care programs and improving the quality of child care provided. The base grant is approximately $188 million and was reauthorized in November 2014 for the first time in nearly 20 years. Pennsylvania's plan will be formally submitted to the federal government in March.
"Parents need to know their children will be cared for in a safe and healthy environment, no matter if they choose child care offered in a home, center, or school-based setting," said Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas. "When young children feel safe and comfortable with their caregivers and their surroundings they are more likely to thrive."
Key features of Pennsylvania's plan are:
- Strengthening health and safety requirements for all child care providers including unannounced inspections and pediatric first aid training;
- Extending the eligibility re-determination period to 12 months to make it easier for families who temporarily lose their job or fall victim to an extended illness to keep their child care;
- Prioritizing vulnerable populations for child care subsidy, including children from families experiencing homelessness, children in foster placement, siblings of children already enrolled in care, children with special needs, and children participating in pre-kindergarten and Head Start programs who need wrap-around child care; and
- The plan also includes proposals to recruit and retain a qualified and effective child care workforce. Research shows that the quality of the teacher or caregiver is one of the most important factors in a child's success.
According to Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, "By age five, 90 percent of a child's brain has already been developed. Child care staff trained in child development and early childhood education know the importance of engaging infants, toddlers and preschoolers in active learning, where they are learning things by doing fun activities through playing."
All public comments and written testimonials submitted regarding the state plan will be posted on the DHS website at www.dhs.pa.gov.
Media Contact: Rachel Kostelac, DHS, 717-425-7606
Nicole Reigelman, PDE, 717-783-9802
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; Pennsylvania Department of Education