The child care industry has long struggled with finding, hiring, and retaining teachers and staff, largely due to low wages and benefits. And yet, strong child outcomes are attributed to early childhood teacher’s credentials and nurturing relationships dependent upon consistency in caregivers. In Pennsylvania, degreed teachers are an integral component of the state’s Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) system, Keystone STARS
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated challenges to the early childhood workforce resulting in an unprecedented childcare crisis. In September of 2021, a statewide survey
conducted by partners of the Start Strong PA Campaign
found that 92% of early childhood providers were experiencing staffing shortages
and, as a result, 51% of respondents closed at least one classroom.
While federal and state relief funds during the pandemic have helped to stabilize child care programs in the short term, this relief has not resolved the systemic challenges that have “plagued the child care market
— for parents and providers — and severe challenges remain,” according to a 2022 report from the National Association for the Education of Young Children