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Mini-grants, Resources Aim to Boost Child Care Supply in Southern Alleghenies

Posted on June 1, 2023

Johnstown, PA (June 1, 2023) – A Start Strong PA survey of Pennsylvania’s child care programs found nearly 32,500 children sitting on waiting lists due to staffing shortages. A year later, an updated survey shows waiting lists had grown to include 35,500 children—an increase of about 9 percent in 10 months. The winter 2023 survey found child care programs still need to fill nearly 4,000 open staffing positions, and 50% of survey respondents indicated they had to close at least one classroom.

For working parents of young children in rural areas, the search for available child care can be even more challenging. The Learning Lamp’s (TLL) Child Care Works for the Southern Alleghenies initiative aims to increase child care supply in the region. The multi-pronged, multi-year project, which is funded primarily by an Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant, is making available mini-grants for people interested in opening or expanding home-based child care programs in Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Blair, Fayette, and Westmoreland counties.

“The Learning Lamp is working with entrepreneurial coaches and child care licensing and support agencies across the region to ensure grant applications and other resources are available for any individual interested in starting a home-based child care program,” explained Connie Cameron, Family Child Care Coordinator for The Learning Lamp. “Support includes guidance on start-up, human resources help, room setup and more.”

In the six-county region, licensed child care centers outnumber group and home providers by a rate of 3 to 1. Yet, family-based child care is a critical support to families across the country. In 2019, nearly 5.2 million providers cared for children under age 13 in their homes, according to the National Survey of Early Care and Education. That was down 25% from the 2012 survey and is likely to have taken another hit as a result of the COVID pandemic.

Michele Little began offering home-based child care in Twin Rocks in 1997. Little applied for a Child Care Works for the Southern Alleghenies mini-grant to help cover costs associated with expanded care over the summer.

“The process to apply for and receive the grant was made easy from start to finish,” said Little, owner, Michele Little Daycare. “What a help it will be for the summer, with added children and payroll for extra staffing to cover ratios.”

Little encouraged others who enjoy working with children, have the space they need, and who always wanted to be their own boss to consider launching a home-based child care business of their own. By providing access to entrepreneurial and early learning support resources and mini-grants to help offset startup and/or expansion costs, the Child Care Works for the Southern Alleghenies initiative hopes to support as many as 20 new and/or existing home-based providers through fall of 2025.

For more information about how you can become involved in increasing child care supply in your community as a home-based provider, call Connie Cameron at 814-262-0732 x228 or email ccameron@thelearninglamp.org.

The Learning Lamp is a nonprofit organization with a mission to engage all children in the support they need to succeed. We deliver high-quality programs that are affordable and accessible to families of all income levels. In 2022, The Learning Lamp served 34,813 youth/adults from 61 public school districts and 70 other schools and organizations in 22 Pennsylvania counties.

 Our programs include: child care and preschool, after-school programs, tutoring, SAT prep, school staffing, alternative education programs for at-risk students, online learning, credit recovery, drug and alcohol prevention programs, and grant writing and project consulting for schools.

 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago
Ready to make a difference in young lives? We are hiring a Child Care Assistant to work at our Center for Children in Richland. Benefits include training, development, career advancement opportunities, and more! EARN A DEGREE FOR FREE! Candidates must have a high school diploma, previous experience working with children, and the ability to pass clearances. Apply online today at http://tiny.cc/4v3avz 

#thelearninglamp #johnstownpa #nowhiring #hiringnow #jobopening