YCCF is focusing our grantmaking on helping lower-income people achieve economic mobility. Quality childcare is critical to a child’s development and to a parent’s ability to sustain employment for the whole family to thrive.
York County’s 2020 Economic Action Plan identified the lack of quality, reliable, and affordable childcare as a major barrier to attracting and retaining a stable workforce.
Today, there are close to 5,000 children in York County in need of care who do not have access because of the shortage of open childcare spots. In 2021, local members of the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission (ELIC) initiated a program to provide an earnings supplement to early childhood teachers, administrators, and staff – the York County Early Childhood Educator Awards.
The group of business leaders came together to raise the funds for the awards and continue to collaborate to seek donations from companies and other community philanthropists. “For three decades the business and civic communities of York County have partnered to make high quality early childhood education a priority,” said Peter Brubaker, one of six local members of the ELIC. “While progress has been made, too many of our young children do not have access to high quality facilities which has an impact on our workforce, both today, and in the future.”
The low wages typical in the early childhood industry make it difficult to attract and retain qualified staff. The average childcare teacher earns $10 per hour, but childcare centers have difficulty raising salaries because they know that there is a limit to how much families can afford to pay.
“In its first year, the Early Childhood Educator Awards distributed $459,000 to 63 home-based family providers, groups, and childcare centers reaching 311 educators and over 4,000 children throughout 22 zip codes in York County,” shared Christy S. Renjilian, MSW, Executive Director of Community Connections for Children, formerly Child Care Consultants, who administers the program at no charge.
Jessica Jacobs, Center Director of Stillmeadow Nazarene Child Care Center shared that the awards made a big impact on the lives of her teachers, like Heather. “Heather said her financial stress was overwhelming, and then her refrigerator decided to stop working. The award was like a pressure release valve – giving her room to fix what was needed and still meet her monthly obligations like the mortgage and electric bill.”
It will take innovation, resources, and enlightened public policy to make quality early learning a right, rather than a privilege. The community foundation is delighted to support this program as a donor and fiscal sponsor and proud to say that 100% of the contributions go to the educators.