Partners Unite to Address Child Care Workforce Crisis

Business leaders, elected officials and nonprofits will learn more about the local and national child care workforce crisis and how it is impacting local businesses and the economy. The Early Childhood Education Action Committee is hosting a roundtable discussion around the local and national child care workforce crisis.
The event will be held on Thursday, September 21, at Northampton Community College, 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem from 8 to 10 a.m. Registration is available here.
This event is held in partnership with United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, The Greater Valley YMCA, Pinebrook Family Answers-Unconditional Child Care, The Children’s Center, Volunteers of America, Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC) and the Lehigh and Northampton Chapter of PennAEYC.
The moderated panel discussion with representatives from Unity Bank, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Creative Learning Center of the Lehigh Valley and Northampton Community College will focus on how the child care staffing crisis is hampering industries from being able to recruit and retain employees.
According to a February 2023 Start Strong PA survey of more than 1,000 child care providers across the state, there are more than 3,600 open staff positions resulting in more than 1,500 closed classrooms with a combined waitlist of more than 35,000 children. The Start Strong PA survey included Lehigh and Northampton County child care providers, which reported a combined 260 open staff positions resulting in 90 closed classrooms with more than 1,400 children on waitlists.
“I really hope these sessions continue to bring actionable awareness to our legislative and business sectors. Through collaboration, I hope we can come out of this early childhood education crisis and work toward sustainable recovery,” said Colleen Gilbert, co-chair of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s Tocqueville Society and the event emcee.
“The event will highlight that high-quality child care is critical to the workforce. No business wants to deal with absenteeism, high turnover, and distracted workers, but if their employees don’t have stable and reliable child care all of these can and do impact the bottom line of a business,” stated the members of the Early Childhood Education Action Committee.
The Committee consists of Charles Dinofrio, President/CEO, Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers; Betty Druckenmiller, Director of the Children’s Center Volunteers of America; Shelly Feller, Program Manager, Unconditional Child Care Pinebrook Family Answers;  Denise Madzik, Coordinator, Northampton Community College Children’s Center, Reibman Hall; Crystal Messer, Vice President of Child Care, Greater Valley YMCA; Dr. Anu Sachdev, Professor, East Stroudsburg University; and Jan Schwartz, Outreach Director, PennAEYC.