Thursday, June 4, 2009

PathWays PA Statement for PCCY Press Conference

"Delaware County Children, Families & Advocates to Urge Legislators to 'Be Strong' During Budget Negotiations"

Large and diverse groups of families are experiencing economic distress and are routinely overlooked and undercounted. PathWays PA has recently released a new study showing the income inadequacy in Pennsylvania, in which we learned that in Pennsylvania, 21%, or 1 in 5 households, lack sufficient income to meet their basic needs: food, housing, transportation, and, especially, childcare and healthcare. In Delaware County, the number of households lacking sufficient income rises to 21.9%.

I note childcare and healthcare particularly because they are expensive but necessary items that allow parents to work while keeping their children safe and healthy. For many parents who are working hard but still unable to make decent wages, the cost of child care may surpass the amount they bring home in a paycheck. Without affordable child care, these parents must choose between losing their jobs or placing their children in unreliable child care situations.

This stark reality shows why child care subsidies and programs such as Head Start and Pre K Counts are so important to Pennsylvanians. With over 15,000 parents on the wait list to receive Child Care Works subsidies, cutting this valuable program will lead to more parents out of work or more children in potentially unsafe child care situations. Meanwhile, wonderful child care and learning centers, like the one we are at today, will remain unfortunately out of reach for many parents.

Healthcare also presents a problem to many parents who are working or who have recently lost their jobs. While the cost of healthcare continues to increase, neither parents nor Pennsylvania can afford the long-term cost of uninsured children. Without routine doctors visits, children must go without the care they need to treat obesity, diabetes, and other issues that bring with them serious lifetime consequences. Programs like CHIP must continue in Pennsylvania to ensure that our children can have healthy futures.

In today’s economy, parents and families are not asking for handouts, but the opportunity to work while keeping their children safe and healthy. Programs such as Pre-K Counts, Child Care Works, and CHIP provide that opportunity, but only when they have the funding they need.

Map from PCCY

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