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PA Child Care Workers Fight for Kids

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PA Child Care Workers Fight for Kids
Child care provider Judi Conte, at a recent rally, reminded Pennsylvania legislators that she and her fellow providers create opportunities for the children they care for. (Photo by Kevin Zapf Hanes)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Child care providers are pushing Pennsylvania General Assembly legislators to create more opportunities for children and are demanding dignity and respect for the work they do.

At a rally in the Harrisburg Capitol’s rotunda, child care providers from across the state said that when children are given the opportunity to receive high-quality care and education at a young age, they are more likely to become productive members of society.

“If they start putting money into our children, they can stop building prisons,” said Jeannie Peoples, a child care provider from Clearfield County with 30 years of experience.

Anita Caraway, a child care provider in the Philadelphia area, said, “If the state chooses to deny these children their opportunity to grow and flourish into the most productive members of society, you are slamming the door on our future.”

The House budget cut $28 million from existing funding for child care services and ignored Gov. Tom Wolf’s call for a $35 million increase in child care funding. 

Caraway urged the state Senate to act. 

“Don’t deny these kids the opportunities they deserve by cutting vital funding that allows them to grow and flourish,” she said.

Also a 30-year professional, Judi Conte of Philadelphia talked about the generations of children she has had under her care.

“We influence these young people’s lives in their most formative years,” she said. “The cuts that the House imposed in their budget sends the wrong message to the children of Pennsylvania.”

Participants at the May 9 rally argued that additional cuts would result in less access to quality, professional child care because facilities would be forced to close. Many families would be forced to leave their jobs and stay home to care for their children. There is already a shortage of care and a wait list of over 14,000 people. Less access will create unforeseen burdens on communities already strapped.