Examining Child Care Funding and Finance in Pennsylvania

Due to a lack of reliable data it remains difficult to fully analyze how child care provider finance practices in Pennsylvania compare to industry best practices, and to determine which policy solutions could best address lingering challenges. Providers are not required to report financial or staffing data to the state beyond the scope of individual contracts. Non-profit providers are subject to annual audited financial statements, but for-profits may not have standardized budgets, cash flow statements, or salary scales, let alone any incentive to share these transparently.

As a first step towards filling in these knowledge gaps, RFA identified six providers of different shapes, sizes, and community contexts from across the Commonwealth, conducted in-person interviews with leaders and staff, and reviewed their internal financial documents. The following policy brief explores their experiences budgeting for the cost of high quality care and offers recommendations for policymakers seeking to improving school readiness for low-income children by expanding access to child care and pre-K services.