Governor Tom Wolf delivered the 2021-22 Executive Budget Address on Feb. 3, 2021. The comprehensive address was aimed to inform each and every Pennsylvanian how Governor Wolf’s proposed budget can work for every individual across the commonwealth. This year's address took an approach where the Governor really spoke to all commonwealth residents. If you did not already view the Budget Address, we encourage everyone to view the Budget Address
Please find and review the highlights pertinent to the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and for early childhood education professionals included below.
Investing in Our Kids
A major theme of the Governor’s 2021-22 Executive Budget and of the Wolf administration as a whole is continuous investments in our kids.
The 2021-22 budget supports OCDEL initiatives to:
- Increase Funding for High-Quality Early Childhood Education
- Stabilize Child Care and Ensure Equal Access for Families
- Increase Access to Early Intervention Services
The 2021-22 Governor’s Executive Budget also includes a proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $12 per hour effective July 1, 2021.
Department of Human Services
Early Intervention Birth-3 (negative supplemental of $8.995 million, total 2020-21 appropriation of $169.432 million; AND increase of $10.951 million, total 2021-22 appropriation of $180.383 million) to serve an estimated 46,600 children.
Early Intervention experienced a temporary decline in service delivery during 2020-21 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but expects to rebound to previous service levels by fall 2021.
Child Care Works
Child Care Services (level-funded, total appropriation of $156.482 million) to support low income families.
Child Care Assistance (increase of $90,000, total appropriation of $109.975 million) to support families receiving TANF, Former TANF and SNAP benefits.
Child Care Works (CCW) is also supported by federal funding sources including Child Care Development Block Grant, Social Service Block Grant and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The Corona Virus Relief Act, the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act have made additional federal funding available to support child care.
During 2021-22, available state and federal funds will be utilized for the following initiatives:
- $87.17 million to support increased Child Care Works base rates and create a more stable business environment for child care facilities while improving equal access to child care services.
- $30.703 million to support a minimum wage increase to $12 per hour.
Plans for the balance of available stimulus funding are not yet finalized.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollments in CCW has decreased from 114,250 in mid-March to approximately 78,650 in December 2020 or a decrease of 31 percent. The current wait list for CCW services is zero; however, the 2021-22 budget anticipates serving approximately 85,000 children.
Evidence Based Home Visiting and Family Supports
Community-Based Family Centers (level-funded, total appropriation $19.558 million) to continue Family Support, Evidence Based Home Visiting, Family Centers, and Promoting Responsible Fatherhood services for approximately 10,500 families. In the spring of 2020-21, DHS plans to release a Request for Application (RFA) to re-compete for all OCDEL overseen federal and state funded Evidence Based Home Visiting (EBHV), Family Centers (FC) and other Family Support programs. All current OCDEL grantees of EBHV, FC and Fatherhood programs will be required to re-compete for funding through the RFA process. New grants awarded through this RFA process are anticipated to begin July 1, 2021.
Nurse Family Partnership (increase of $84,000, total appropriation of $13.083 million) to adjust for a decrease in the estimated FMAP savings and continue Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) Evidence Based Home Visiting services for approximately 2,831 pregnant women and families. In the spring of 2020-21, DHS plans to release a competitive Request for Application (RFA) to re-compete for all OCDEL overseen federal and state funded Evidence Based Home Visiting (EBHV) and Family Support Programs, including NFP. All current OCDEL NFP grantees will be required to re-compete for funding through the RFA process. New grants awarded through this RFA process are anticipated to begin July 1, 2021.
The Wolf administration values Home Visiting programs. In addition to the work at OCDEL, the Office of Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP) has expanded a home visiting initiative through Medicaid managed care organizations to provide at least two home visits to all first-time parents and parents with additional risk factors covered by Medicaid.
Department of Education
Early Childhood Education
The 2020-21 Governor’s Executive Budget continues to build on the state’s investment in PA Pre-K Counts and Heads Start Supplemental Assistance Program.
PA Pre-K Counts (increase of $25 million, total appropriation of $242.284 million)
- $25 million to serve an additional 2,800 children.
Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (increase of $5 million, total appropriation of $69.178 million)
- $5 million to serve an additional 471 children.
Together with $145 million in funding increases secured over the past six years for Early Childhood Education, an additional investment of $30 million in 2020-21 will increase funding for Pre-K Counts by 149 percent and funding for Head Start Supplemental Assistance by 77 percent since 2014-15.
In total, the proposed funding levels will enable OCDEL to serve approximately 29,261 in Pre-K Counts and 8,261 in Head Start Supplemental Assistance in 2021-22.
Minimum Salary for Certified Teachers
Governor Wolf proposed a minimum salary of $45,000 for all certified teachers in the commonwealth. This would apply to PA Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program certified teachers employed by a school district, intermediate unit or career and technical school.
Preschool Early Intervention, 3-5 (increase of $11 million, total appropriation of $336.5 million) to serve an additional 2,000 children or 63,000 total children.