Mayor William Peduto’s administration introduced a $2 million fund to boost the quality of early learning and Pre-K within the city by improving child care facilities.
The City of Pittsburgh Childcare Quality Fund will provide grants to upgrade and improve child care facilities and help them obtain high quality designations from the state. The program and facilities upgrades that are required for a high quality designation are costly and can prove to be especially challenging for programs serving low and moderate income families.
Currently only 19% of Pittsburgh child care facilities have reached the high quality designation of STAR 3 or STAR 4 using Pennsylvania’s Quality Rating and Improvement System Keystone STARS. Programs that are with this designation follow Pennsylvania’s Early Learning Standards and employ staff who have extensive education and training in child development and education.
“I am committed to ensuring that all children in the City of Pittsburgh have access to high quality early learning and Pre-K. This grant fund will provide child care facilities with the means to improve their programs and will build the number of quality seats that we have in the City,” Mayor Peduto said. “This is a big step toward my goal of offering universal Pre-K.”
High quality facilities provide a stimulating, safe and nurturing environment for children that prepares them for school and to reach their full potential. Reaching a high quality designation not only ensures that children are getting the support they need to thrive: it also enables facilities to become more financially stable through increased child care subsidy rates. High quality facilities can tap into additional funding streams such as Early Head Start, Head Start and Pre-K Counts which enable facilities to serve additional low and moderate income families within their programs.
The funding will be administered by The Alliance for Infants and Toddlers, a partner of the Allegheny County Early Learning Resource Center region 5, with oversight by a committee of City of Pittsburgh officials and experts.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Office of Child Development and Early Learning announced last year the creation of Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRC) to provide residents and child care facilities with one-stop hubs for early education and child care needs. Within Allegheny County the ELRC will be jointly operated and administered via three partners: the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Trying Together and the Alliance for Infants and Toddlers. The Allegheny County ELRC will be in charge of providing coaching and technical support for programs wishing to participate and for distributing the city’s $2 million in grant funding.
Allegheny County’s ELRC will launch on July 1, 2019. Once established, the city’s Childcare Quality Fund will assist facilities with upgrades including:
- Roof repair/replacement
- Window repair/replacement
- HVAC repair/replacement
- Plumbing repair/replacement
- Flooring repair/replacement
- Mold testing/remediation
- Lead testing/remediation
- Fire suppression systems/sprinklers
- Playground equipment installation
- Playground surfacing
- Fencing and installation
- Security cameras and systems
- Painting repair/repainting
- Retrofitting areas of facility to open new classrooms
The fund will also support programmatic upgrades including:
- Curriculum and related materials
- Child Assessment instrument costs
- Professional Development for staff
- Literacy materials
- Fine and gross motor materials
- Dramatic play materials
- STEAM materials
- Child sized furniture
- Child safety materials
- Mobile handwashing sinks
- Mentor program costs