On February 13, 2018, the PA Department of Human Services (DHS) announced initiatives included in Governor Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal in support of Pennsylvania families and children. The budget items will provide opportunities for a brighter future by expanding access to services for self-sufficiency and sustainability.

The proposed 2018-19 budget includes investments in high-quality early childhood education to support low-income families in Pennsylvania struggling to stay in the workforce due to the cost of child care.

Governor Wolf proposed a $25 million state-fund investment, matched with $5 million in federal funds to expand access to high-quality early childhood education services, allowing parents to work while their children are in safe, reliable child care.

The investment consists of:

  • $10 million to provide approximately 1,600 additional low-income children and families access to child care;
  • $10 million in state funds, and an additional $5 million in federal funds, to increase
    STAR 2, 3, and 4 tiered payment rates;
  • $3 million to establish a pilot program focused on early childhood education programs for children under 3; and
  • $2 million to provide a rate increase for services provided through Nurse Family Partnership and Community-Based Family Centers to enhance capacity.

For many low-income working families, the cost of high-quality child care is financially out of reach. By investing in high-quality child care and incentivizing child care providers to give quality care to vulnerable children, more families will have access to supports that will enable them to work and their children to benefit from a high-quality early education setting.

“Child care is a critical work support to low income working families that allows parents and caregivers to be focused employees,” said DHS Acting Secretary Teresa Miller. “Child care access also allows children to enjoy high-quality learning environments that benefit their healthy growth and development.”

Families and children can also benefit from the holistic support services provided through evidenced-based home visiting programs. Early childhood and prenatal home visiting programs ensure families have the support and services they need to provide a holistic and healthy home environment. And Governor Wolf has proposed $4.5 million for an initiative to expand evidenced-based home visiting focused on communities impacted the most by the opioid epidemic.

Home visiting can improve parents’ knowledge and skills, help develop social support systems, and improve access to education, health, and community services. In addition, by providing education, resources and referral strategies to agencies that support either parents struggling with an opioid use disorder (OUD) or other substance use disorder (SUD) or to home visiting programs, families will have a stronger network of supports for the entire family. The investments within this initiative include:

  • $4 million to expand evidenced-based home visiting to 800 families in communities most impacted by OUD;
  • $500,000 for cross-systems training for county children and youth staff, early intervention providers, home visiting professionals, and private provider staff focusing on working with families experiencing SUD or OUD and infants with substance exposure.

“Successful treatment of individuals dealing with SUD that focuses on the whole person, not just the addiction, has been most successful,” Miller said. “By giving parents in treatment the tools and assistance to meet their child’s needs, we hope to reduce the number of children entering out-of-home care while supporting the parents’ recovery.”

For more information on Governor Wolf’s 2018-19 proposed budget visit budget.pa.gov.