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Childcare industry facing unprecedented challenges

Ghealze Bernstein works with preschool students at Children's Playhouse Whitman in South Philadelphia.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Ghealze Bernstein works with preschool students at Children's Playhouse Whitman in South Philadelphia.

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Airdate: Friday, October 29, 2021

Childcare options in Pennsylvania essentially evaporated in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most providers closed their doors for at least a while at the beginning of mitigation efforts, dealing many centers a financial death blow that is hampering any hopes of industry recovery.

Providers are now facing the same labor shortages that are plaguing other parts of the service sector. This is leaving limited care options for families.

The federal government earmarked American Rescue Plan funds to help stabilize the childcare industry, and Pennsylvania has also made financial commitments of support. But is it too late?

Appearing on Smart Talk Friday to discuss ways to support the childcare industry are Tracey Campanini, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; Diane Barber, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Child Care Association; Ruby Martin, Chief Child and Youth Programs Officer, YWCA York; and Kim Shearer, owner and Executive Director, Tender Years, Inc., a multi-site, family-owned business with centers in Camp Hill, Hershey, and Mechanicsburg.

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