New Report: Employing and Engaging Families with Young Children, 2024

The Need

Quality Child Care Helps Keep Children on Track

Quality child care is a two-generation workforce issue, essential for parents to work and a critical foundation of early learning and development for young children.


In today’s economy, accessible, affordable, high-quality child care is critical infrastructure. PA families need child care to work, and PA employers need child care to ensure their workforce needs are met. Further, high-quality care and early education help prepare children for school and life success by supporting them during a critical period for brain development – prenatal to age five.

Child care helps keep children on track for a successful future.

During children’s earliest years, their experiences are built into their bodies — shaping the brain’s architecture and creating the foundation for future learning and health. Everything a child experiences from birth impacts that child’s ability to fulfill his or her potential.


  • By the time a child turns eight, his or her third-grade reading outcomes can predict future academic achievement and career success. Yet in Pennsylvania, only 40% of third-graders are reading at or above proficiency as of 2019. For black children, the number drops to 17%, and for Hispanic children, the number drops to 18%, showcasing the disparities in our education system.
  • Only 44% of PA’s high school graduates met the ACT’s college readiness benchmarks in 2019.
  • High-quality child care and early learning programs help children:
    • advance language and pre-math skills;
    • advance social and executive functioning skills, such as the ability to plan, focus, and work collaboratively;
    • and adjust easier to kindergarten.
The return on investment is substantial. Research by Dr. James Heckman, a Harvard economist and professor, shows an ROI of 13% for investments in high-quality early childhood programs—a higher ROI than other infrastructure investments such as roads or housing investments.

By supporting families’ child care needs, you can help ensure the next generation of workers is ready to succeed.

American business depends on a strong workforce, now and in the future, to compete and succeed globally. But America is facing an unprecedented workforce crisis: a large and growing shortage of skilled workers. One root of this problem is that we’ve underestimated the importance of the earliest years of life.

– U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Latest Research on Lifelong Development

The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University drives science-based innovation to achieve breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity. In 2022, Center Director, Dr. Jack Shonkoff and his team introduced Early Childhood Development 2.0 which builds on the seminal research that has supported the field and informed policies for over the past two decades.