BLUE BELL, April 28, 2022 – State Senator Katie Muth (D- Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee today joined Senator Maria Collett, Senator Amanda Cappelletti, Senator Carolyn Comitta and Senator Judy Schwank to host a public hearing on the challenges faced by college students and staff in regard to childcare.
“Our hearing today highlighted the frustrating reality that affordable, accessible, and quality childcare is an unmet need for families across the Commonwealth,” Muth said. “We need to support the parents and the single mothers who are trying to fight their way out of poverty and economic struggle, trying to make ends meet, further their education, and trying to make a better life for their children. It is time for Harrisburg and Washington to step up and invest in childcare services.”
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing, hosted in the Health Sciences Center at Montgomery County Community College, featured three panels of testimony from students, educators, advocates, and public policy experts who will discuss the lack of affordable and accessible childcare at institutions of higher education.
“Parents who want to further their education deserve the opportunity to do so,” Cappelletti said. “By building in resources for parents to have access to affordable, quality childcare when continuing their education, we can open up more economic opportunities for families in Pennsylvania to be successful.”
According to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, nearly four million U.S. undergraduate students—or 22 percent of all undergraduate students—are raising children while attending a postsecondary education program. The study found that 70 percent of student parents are mothers – and over two in 5 of all student parents are single mothers.
“More than 20 percent of college undergraduate students are also parents. Ensuring those student-parents have access to childcare is a matter of both equity and economics,” Collett said. “Our Commonwealth cannot grow and prosper when parents of young children are unable to save for the future, find family sustaining jobs, and pursue and complete their education. It’s far past time for the Commonwealth to acknowledge this and adequately invest in our childcare infrastructure. With billions of unspent federal ARP dollars, now is the time to do so.”
One of the programs discussed at the hearing was the federal Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools (CCAMPIS) program which is fully-funded by the US Department of Education to establish campus-based child care programs that help low-income student-parents stay in school and graduate. Pennsylvania also offers the Child Care Works program which is managed by the Early Learning Resource Centers.
“Many Pennsylvanians have faced the difficult decision to choose between affording childcare or continuing a higher education. Childcare programs offer critical educational skills and support for children and their families,” Comitta added. “Affordability, quality, and access to these programs are the obstacles and disparities that we must work to address and ensure that all working parents can shape a healthy, safe, and successful future for their family.”
Participants in the hearing included May Yaghnam, a mother of four and a student at the Community College of Philadelphia; Kristina Valdez, Executive director, Along the Way; Kelly Lake; Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Project Director, Community College of Philadelphia; Dr. Kalani Palmer, Associate Professor in Human Development and CCAMPIS Project Director, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and Tracey Campanini, Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning.
“It’s clear the business model for childcare is broken and creative solutions are needed to meet the modern needs of Pennsylvanians. Linking childcare and higher education is one way to allow parents to pursue the education they need to increase their earning potential, and it would benefit staff and faculty as well,” Schwank said. “Today’s hearing provided us with some ideas about ways we can expand childcare services in the commonwealth and provide these crucial services at more Pennsylvania colleges and universities.”
All submitted testimony from the policy hearing and the full video is available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy
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