Senate Democrats discuss child care challenges facing students during policy hearing

BLUE BELL, April 28, 2022 — State Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks/Chester/Montgomery), chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, joined Sen. Maria Collett, Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, Sen. Carolyn Comitta and Senator Judy Schwank to host a public hearing on the challenges the college faces students and staff in child care.

“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 must support parents and single mothers who are trying to lift themselves out of poverty and economic struggle, to make ends meet, to continue their education and improve the lives of their children. It’s time for Harrisburg and Washington to step up and invest in child care.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing, held at the Montgomery County Community College Health Sciences Center, featured three panels of testimony from students, educators, advocates and public policy experts who will discuss the lack of affordable and accessible childcare services in higher education institutions. .

“Parents who want to further their education deserve the opportunity to do so,” Cappelletti said. “By creating resources for parents to have access to affordable, quality child care while they continue their education, we can open up more economic opportunities for Pennsylvania families to succeed.”

According to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, nearly four million American undergraduates, or 22% of all undergraduates, are raising children while attending post-secondary education. The study found that 70% of student parents are mothers – and more than two in five student parents are single mothers.

“More than 20% of undergraduate students are also parents. Ensuring that these student-parents have access to child care is a matter of fairness and economy,” said Collett. “Our Commonwealth cannot grow and prosper when parents of young children are unable to save for the future, find jobs to support their families, and pursue and complete their education. It is high time that the Commonwealth recognizes this and is investing adequately in our child care infrastructure.With billions of federal ARP dollars unspent, now is the time to do so.

One of the programs discussed at the hearing was the federal program Access to Child Care Means Parents in Schools (CCAMPIS) program fully funded by the U.S. Department of Education to establish on-campus child care programs that help low-income student-parents stay in school and graduate. Pennsylvania also offers the Child care work program run by the Early Learning Resource Centers.

“Many Pennsylvanians have faced the difficult decision of whether to afford child care or pursue higher education. Child care programs provide essential educational skills and support to children and their families,” Comitta added. “Affordability, quality and access to these programs are the barriers and disparities we must remove and ensure that all working parents can shape a healthy, safe and prosperous future for their families.”

Hearing participants included May Yaghnam, mother of four and student at Community College of Philadelphia; Kristina Valdez, Executive Director, On the Way; Kelly Lake; Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Project Director, Community College of Philadelphia; Dr. Kalani Palmer, Associate Professor of Human Development and CCAMPIS Project Director, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and Tracey Campanini, Assistant Secretary, Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning.

“It is clear that the business model of child care 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 also benefit staff and faculty,” Schwank said. “Today’s hearing has provided us with some ideas on how to expand child care services across the Commonwealth and provide these crucial services at more colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.”

All of the testimony submitted during the Policy Hearing and the full video are available at SenatorMuth.com/Policy

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