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The PA Politics Podcast
The PA Politics Podcast

Episode 16 · 1 year ago

The PA Politics Podcast: Episode 16 - PCCY and COVID-19 Childcare Challenges

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Join us as we chat with Donna from Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) about handling childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what PCCY and local governments are doing to ensure that children get the care they need. 

...so Ta we're chatting with Donna Cooperfrom public citizens for children and youth or PCCWHY. How are you Donna,hous quarantine for you, I'm very good. You know it's not raining. Maybe it'll be a nice weekend and it'sbeen a great week so far good good, so this pandemic is obviously affectingour country and our economy in a lot of really big ways. It has in particular,affected our children. I know approximately a third of surveyed,child care agencies and PA reported that they would not be able to remainopen if the statewide shut down remains longer than a month. So can you speakto the importance of making sure that the legislature creates something thatensures that when the state gets up and running again, we have full capacitychildcare? Absolutely, and it's interesting we're talking today, as thegovernor has extended the...

...stay at home order for other thanthirty days. So the result of that survey wil come to be true withoutrapid action by the legislature and I'm pleased that they found ways to act ina way that will keep them all safe and healthy. But what we need that actionto do is really think about. In order for people to go back to work. We haveclose to four hundred thousand children that are regularly in childcare so thattheir parents can work, keep in mind that seven out of ten children haveboth parents working. So in order for their parents to go to work. Those fourhundred housand kids go to child care, and what we know is that there are sevenhousand child care providers across the state and by and large they've lostseventy percent of their income. The only income they're g currently gettingis if they have essential workers who are coming to them, which are veryrarely doing, and if they are continued to be paid by the state becausecuse,they were Prek or headspart programs...

...and state wisely continued paying thoseprograms, because we wanted to make sure that fewer people were onunemployment. So since those state funds were already appropriated,they're sending them out and the state is also paying childcare providers,even though children aren't there for the same reason, but most childcare programs, even thosewith prk, are dependent more than half some of them. Eighty percent on thetuitions that parents pay when they send their children to a childcareprogram and the copay revenue that parents pay when even theyre on asubsidized program, so centers have lost the bulk of their income and theystill have to pay their mortgage. They have to pay theitr insurance, wher,theyr, rent, they have to pay their utility costs and the amount of moneythey're getting in the release of the childcare subsidy or the Prek money iscertainly not enough to cover those costs, plus pay themselvesor any staffthey can afford to keep on payroll. So we are asking state wide. We have acoalition called start strong, pier and...

...they are working an partnership withprk for PA, and it's made up of the Association of Child Care Programs andchildcare worker organizations and policy organizations like pensavanaapartnerships for children and charitable organizations. Like theUnited Way of Pennsylvania and US at ppcwhy calling on the state to rapidlyuse funds, the state is receiving already from the federal governmentunder the COVID emergency bill and that's about a hundred million dollars.We think that money needs to go out to providers as fast as possible and itneeds to go out to first cover the the share of revenue that child careproviders used to get from parents who were on subsidy. The Co payments thatparents used to make so that at least for the lowest income children. Theyare hope and those lowest income. Children can walk back into thoseprograms and know they're ready for them when their parents reeturn to workand then also to take the money that...

...the federal government has given themand say if the children that were privately paid for maybe a tuition offourteen or fifteen housand dollars that prive that parents paid and ifthose children were being reinbursed for those providers at the rate of thestate subsidy we'd, be spending about fifty million a month on all those kidsthat are currently paperd by their parents. So we're asking the state toget that money out there send that hundred and million dollars out toproviders, maybe in one or two month, chunks to cover the amount of money ifthose kids were in subsidy and also to pay for the COPA. So that's like sixtyseven million dollars of a hundred and two million. We think that centers alsoneed help cleaning so that they're safe for children to return to so we'reasking for several million dollars to really enable centers to do top tobottom high detailed distant fecten, so that children as dad can be safe, butsome Pema or female funds could be used for that. Other states are doing that.So it's not an unreasonable ask and by...

...the way, centers that have stayed openfor essential workers are going broke,bying, baby, wifes, disinvected wifes cleaning every day and they need amedia assistance to meet those costs and they can use tema funds for that,and we know Pennsylvanias beginning to think about how to do that. And thenthe last thing is that we think it's really important that we make up forthe lost time that children who are going to enter kindergarten next yeardidn't get this year in PRK and head start. So for kids, who are four yearold and they're going to enter school next year. We're asking the state touse some of the federal money and state funds that are currently sort of pentup and not spent yet to pay for six or eight weeks of summer. Prk and headstart art, and that would be about thirty five million dollars. So youknow what we're asking the stat to do is going to cost a bit more than whatthey got in the federal funds. But there is also reserves in the childcareolines from underspending in the current year or funds that were setaside for other uses that are no longer...

...rational given covid, and we think it'sreal important to get that money out to providers so that kids are enrolled asquickly as possible. A parents can get to work so pccy recently created astrategy to guarantee early learning programs and childcare. Centers areready to support parents when they eventually go back to work. Can youtell me what is on this strategy plan? Well, the strategy plan includes threethings. The first is we provided one to one technical assistance for child careproviders right, so we built a pop up technical assistance clinic for child Cproviders, but actually for any child surfering organization. So andanybodylistening to your podcast could call us about this, who serves children, and we have people who are expert insmall business loan packaging so that you can get one on one help with yourapplication for the paycheck protection at fons or the economic disaster loanfunds. So that's the first thing and...

...then also one to one support,understanding, unemployment, family and medical leade and paid time off andright now we have a team of six experts who are doing calls all day and childcar providers are in a mixture of tears and crying tears and joys of hapentears of happiness and tears of sadness as they're. On these calls to havesomebody to talk to so the first thing is: We need to make sure child careproviders and preke providers and head star providers get the federalresources that are available for them to help them keep their businessoperational during the shutdown. The second thing is that we have advancedto play on with the legislature and brief pikures about how they can actquickly to inture that childcare providers remain somewhat liquid, sothey can open the day. The order is lifted and bring theirstaffback on and be clean and ready to go, and then the third thing isengaging providers ind talking with their lawmakers, so that lawmakers knowtheir risk of closure. This is not.

This is not a hypothetical. This isreal, so they know how many parents in theircommunities are dependent on them for going going back to work, how manyworkers are dependent on the childcare sector, reopening tens of thousands ofpeople work up for those seventhusand providers and then, finally, how ourkids are dependent on them to be ready for school. So the strategy isimmediate financial support, a a plan for the LEGISLAURE PA legislature toact, and then the advocacy and mobilization for people to help theiralaw maker know this storry is real in their district right. So can you tellme what canparents who rely on child care and are going to meet it when theygo back to work? What can they do to help this cause a law? Well, the firstthing they could do is look up their address and Phon number of their skaterepresentative for state cenator. Now you can write them a letter. In fact,people with some of the in the homem office is not the Harrispurg Office.People are going by and picking a mail...

...for the lawmakers, so you could write aladder and say why this is. If Your Child Care Center isn't there, youcan't go back to work, they are taking calls. I talk to lawmakers all day.There are their offices, many of them have directed their phones to theirstaff, so don't be shy, call them up and spay. I know there's a lot ofthings. Hospitals need money, bad if small businesses need money, but by theway, if I can't return to work, then I don't have any money and they need tohear that. If I don't go to work because there's no child care, itdoesn't matter that there'r small businesses and hospitals that are stillopen, because I can't I can't access any of those services and I can't go towork. So people should not be shy to call up and say I'd like to speak tothe legislative director for Representative Cooper and legislatedirector gets on and they say hi. How are you- and you say, I'm good, I'm sue.I live in your district. I've lived in your district for a long time and Ineed to tell you I'm depending on child care, and I need you to act on the planthat start strong and Prek for PA have...

...advanced, because that's the bestchance for me to get back to work so calling many people are really proficient atfacebook. So yoposting a picture of your kid on facebook and making sureyou are tagging your state representative andstate Senator and the Governor and Sike. This is my child. If I, when I go backto work, SOMEBODYJ's got to watch this kid so pass the plan that starts Rong aFrak advance, so I can go back to work same with instagram same with twitter.We need to use every virtual vehicle we have because in person meetings justaren't possible at this point, but parents will be the biggest voice inthis, and actually we've done really really well already. Over ten hsandparents have reached out to their state rapper state senator across the Stateto say: You've got to act to save the Early Childhood Infastructure PrkChildcare Hi'd start do it now, so I encourage everybody who hears this lookup your lawmaker and call them your Pa...

House, member and your PA senator anddon't be shy and tell him what you need good. Besides this, what else has PCCwhy I've been doing to help kids and families during this pandemic? Well,thank you for asking that you know. We've been very varies from picking updiapers thousands of diapers and delivering them to food distribution,so like points to creating tool kits for arts for parents to do at home, sowe have a really creative set of poetry, dance, theater, music, Visual Art Activities that Span Ktwelve ages, actually zero to k twelve ages on our website and art tokit thatwe created with teachers from across the region so that both teachers andparents could make sure their children learn. artskills, not just new art, butlearn, aren't skills during the crisis. And then you know, we've spent most ofour time. Helping families get immediate needs mats. So we know thatimmigrant families have no idea what...

...resources are about out there becausemost things are in English or maybe in Spanish, but we have fellow citizenswho speak Bengali and Russian and Arabic and Indonesian and French and Portuguene face. So we spenta lot of time translating documents into ten different languages andgetting them out to all the organizations and the faith communitiesthat serve these communities. So these families know how to get health care,how to get health care insurance, how to make sure to get food HAV. I getaviction protection, so we're spending a lot of time. Thinking about how do wecommunicate to people who just don't speak English? Obviously, W've done alot of work to help childcare providers, but we also work with school districtsand we've been goosting them along to get their onmine instruction going. Wehad a little campaign called teach our kids to really try and get the schooldistricts to realize that this this stay at home, owneris not going to belifted, so start teaching, yeah and...

...that's been pretty successful. Asuccessful many districts who really kind of cross their fingers and hopethis was all going to get over. They didn't like the fact that we werepushing so hard, but they moved and so now they're starting to teach and nowwe're thinking about. How do we inspire people to think about creating summerschool across the state so that children can make up for this lastmorning time? I know kids want to play in the summer. Maybe it doesn't need tobe all day and maybe doesn't need to be every day, but believe me in WohanChina, when they shut down they're, going to make up that educational timefor those kids, because they know the importance of education to thechildren's future and to their economy, and we need to be speriothis. Our kidshave lost easily two months of learning and that's a lot, and so we want tomake sure and we'll be working very hard to move prk programs at head startprograms in the summer and hopefully school so kids can go back, see theirfriends, see their teachers and learn. So that's the kind of work that we'vebeen doing that 's awesome. Thank you...

...so much. Thank you for all the workyou've been doing. I'm sure everyone really appreciates it. I personallydon't have kids, but I know that there's a lot of appreciation aroundthis, so thank you so much and thank you for hapylike Mayi mention one thingthat we have a Worko if you any parent or provider or somebody who works withforeign language communities. If you go to PCC, why got work forward covid yousee a set of researches for parents o set of resources for child servingproviders and then a set of resources that are specifically translatedinformation and then arts resources, so please use our resources, feel free todisseminate them. They're, all free, so pccwy that work forward. Lash covid isthe tool kit for parents in this reto great. Thank you so much Donna. Thankyou thanks, O monotaping to you. Thank you.

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