St. Luke’s Sacred Heart, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and Partners Address Local Child Care Workforce Crisis at Advocacy Event to Spread Awareness

Allentown, PA  – A recent survey reports that nearly 150 early childhood classrooms are closed in the Greater Lehigh Valley and over 92% of programs have a staffing shortage. Access to high quality early learning opportunities have greatly decreased, and many families, especially in high-poverty zip codes in the Lehigh Valley, reported being unable to find child care.
Across the state of Pennsylvania, child care providers have faced serious challenges in staffing their facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, low wages for teachers and challenging work environments. These shortages prevent providers from offering the quality care they strive to maintain.
“When child care programs can’t open classrooms or permanently close due to staffing issues, it makes it challenging for parents to work and ultimately places a significant burden on the Lehigh Valley economy and beyond,” Frank Ford, President of St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus said. “This issue will only grow more serious as time passes.”

St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus operates an Education Action Committee made up of leaders from various organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley. In partnership with United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (UWGLV), the Education Action Committee will be hosting a Child Care Workforce Crisis Advocacy event at the Sacred Heart Campus for business leaders, elected officials and nonprofits to learn about the local and national child care workforce crisis and its impact on local businesses and our economy and to hear from a panel featuring parents, teachers and child care administrators.

The Child Care Workforce Crisis Advocacy event will be held on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 from 8-10 a.m. in partnership with UWGLV, Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, The Greater Valley YMCA, Pinebrook Family Answers-Unconditional Child Care, The Children’s Center, Volunteers of America and CAI. Registration is available HERE.

“We’re presenting on the workforce crisis because we believe that to be an issue needing immediate attention; problem-solving would lead to more child care and early learning program slots for children ages 0-5,” stated the Education Action Committee consisting 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; Crystal Messer, Vice President of Child Care, Greater Valley YMCA; Renee Stephens, Director, CAI Cares, CAI; and Akshara Vivekananthan, Director, School Readiness, UWGLV.

Earlier this year, hundreds of early learning programs throughout Pennsylvania came together to sponsor and coordinate Child Care Hiring Days for PA that featured on-the-spot interviews at their locations and announcements about their competitive salary and benefits, tuition reimbursement, continuing education and on-the-job training.

“The hiring event was a temporary solution. Now we’re calling all business leaders, legislators, regulatory officials that work for the state of PA and community members in the nonprofit, for-profit and government sectors to get involved. We need continued investments so all children have equitable access to a healthy start,” said Akshara Vivekananthan, Director of School Readiness, UWGLV.