Pittsburgh creates $2 million fund to improve child care centers citywide
Private child care centers in Pittsburgh would be eligible for city grants to improve their state quality rankings through a $2 million fund the Mayor’s Office announced on Monday.
The Pittsburgh Childcare Quality Fund is the product of a resolution sponsored in 2017 by former Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. Council allocated the money in 2018 and is expected to introduce legislation on Tuesday that would authorize a cooperation agreement with Baldwin-based Alliance for Infants and Toddlers to administer it.
Under the program, the city’s 206 preschool and child care centers would be eligible for grants for facility and curriculum upgrades designed to boost ratings assigned by the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Keystone STARS systems.
Keystone STARS ranks organizations on a scale of one to four based on performance standards. The Mayor’s Office said only about 19 percent of Pittsburgh’s child care programs are ranked in higher quality levels.
“I think it would definitely help us. There’s a lot of need,” said the Rev. Brenda Gregg, executive director of Project Destiny Learning Centers, which operates facilities in Perry South and the Community College of Allegheny County. “Many of the facilities on the North Side, when we talk about quality and trying to get their (ranking) up to where they should be, is an issue because they don’t have the funding.”
Gregg said her two centers have a STAR 2 ranking and the organization hopes to increase that.
“It is our hope that those funds will actually go down to the centers that need it the most,” she said.
Child care providers say tuition and state subsidies do not offer a large enough margin to cover the cost of improvements needed to boost state rankings, particularly for those serving low- and moderate-income families.
Mayor Bill Peduto described the fund as a step in his long-range plans to provide preschool for every child in Pittsburgh.
“This grant fund will provide child care facilities with the means to improve their programs and will build the number of quality seats that we have in the City,” Peduto said in a statement.
The mayor will create an advisory committee consisting of city staffers and childcare experts to monitor the fund.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .