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Latest National Rankings for Child Well-Being Show PA at 22nd 

Pennsylvania ranks 22nd overall in child well-being, according to the 2023 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzing how children and families are faring. When looking specifically at economic well-being, the state ranks 22nd, while it ranks 20th in health.  

The health domain looks at the percentage of children who lack health insurance, child and teen death rates, the percentage of low birth-weight babies and obesity among 10–17-year-olds. The Data Book reports that Pennsylvania's rate of uninsured children is 4% and approximately 126,000 children cannot access affordable, quality health care coverage through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. In addition, Pennsylvania is ranked 23rd for the percentage of low birth-weight babies.  

Pennsylvania families who rely on Medicaid for coverage for themselves and their children may have recently noticed a significant change: the Medicaid redetermination process that began April 1st through which DHS determines whether enrollees still qualify. This change comes about with the end of the public health emergency. During this unwinding process, it is imperative that children no longer eligible be connected to CHIP to avoid gaps in coverage and to ensure that children who remain eligible for Medicaid keep their coverage without experiencing inappropriate terminations or disruptions that often affect children more than the adult population. 

The Data Book also reports that too many parents cannot secure child care compatible with work schedules and commutes. The Data Book reports that in 2020—21, 12% of children birth to age 5 in Pennsylvania lived in families in which someone quit, changed, or refused a job because of problems with child care. And women are five to eight times more likely than men to experience negative employment consequences related to caregiving.  

Even if parents can find an opening for child care near their home, they often can't pay for it. Pennsylvania's average annual cost of center-based child care for a toddler was $11,346, or 10% of the median income for a married couple and 35% of a single mother's income in the state.  

In the News: 


House Dems Pass Budget, Senate Response Imminent  

Since our last newsletter—and with the June 30th state budget deadline looming—the state House of Representatives passed House Bill 611. The bill originally contained Governor Shapiro's complete budget proposal, but was amended to increase multiple budgetary lines in anticipation of cuts from Senate Republican leadership. Among those increases is an additional $45 million for child care, $100 million for Basic Education Funding, and the reintroduction of an additional $225 million for the Level Up supplement. The budget bill is now in the hands of the Senate, which was not in session last week, but will undoubtedly further amend the bill before a final budget agreement is reached. 

The House Children and Youth Committee also met recently and approved multiple pieces of legislation of interest to PPC. HB 665 (Bullock), which PPC supports, would modernize the WIC program in Pennsylvania. Another bill we support, HB 1058 (Krajewski), would allow kinship care providers to testify during child custody hearings. HB 1020 (Mehaffie) would take into consideration experience when child care providers seek to move up a Keystone STAR level. All three bills were voted favorably from the committee and now await action to pass finally on the House floor. 

Other legislation PPC supports that would positively impact children and families has been moving in recent weeks. HB 664 (Bullock), which codifies the WIC Advisory Board, passed the House by a vote of 155-48. HB 1259 (Davis) would enhance Pennsylvania's Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit Program, and passed the House by a vote of 141-62, while HB 1272 (Sappey) would implement a state Earned Income Tax Credit and passed the House by a vote of 122-81. SB 262 (Schwank) would add "severe maternal morbidity" to the list of reportable events to DOH and the MMRC—it was voted favorably form the House Health Committee earlier this month.  

PPC is closely monitoring the General Assembly as it works to pass a budget bill and various code bills to meet the constitutional deadline of June 30th. Our special budget edition of the newsletter will be out shortly after the budget is signed into law.  


Data Did You Know?


In Case You Missed It...

  • The Office of Children, Youth and Families recently released guidance that outlines new provisions for family finding required under Act 118 of 2022.  
  • Start Strong PA sent a petition to Governor Shapiro and the General Assembly, with over 3,700 signers across the state, calling for an investment in the final budget to increase wages for child care workers. According to a February 2023 Start Strong PA survey of more than 1,000 child care providers across the state, low wages are causing more than 3,600 open staff positions among these providers resulting in more than 1,500 closed classrooms with a combined waitlist of more than 35,000 children. Pennsylvania has more than 6,400 child care programs, so this is only a snapshot of the full impact of the staffing shortage. 
  • PPC Vice President of Data and Strategy Kelly Hoffman is a panelist on an upcoming webinar—Using American Community Survey (ACS) Data to Inform State and Local Decision-making. Register here for the June 28th discussion.  
  • Last week Indigenous communities saw a victory as the US Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law designed to protect Indigenous children from being unwillingly adopted out of their communities with the intent of assimilating them. A strong majority of the Court voted to uphold these critical protections. 
  • The National Center for Children in Poverty, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, and Johnson Policy Consulting's report, Medicaid Policies to Help Young Children Access Key Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health Services: Results from a 50-state Survey, details the results of a policy survey of Medicaid agency leaders in each state on Medicaid policies related to screenings and services designed to identify, prevent, and treat infant-early childhood mental health problems.  

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
200 North Third Street 13th Floor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101
(717) 236-5680

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