Of the many decisions a parent must make, choosing the right child care program is among the most critical.
For some families, that choice can also be the most difficult.
Sky-high costs, long waiting lists, and limited options have made finding child care a national challenge. A recent survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that one-third of American parents and caregivers have had difficulty finding quality care.
Often, the problem is a lack of local programs. About 3,500 ZIP codes qualify as child care deserts, according to the Center for American Progress. Sometimes the issue is too few available seats. For many families, it’s all about affordability: With average costs running nearly $10,000 a year per child, even middle-class families are feeling the squeeze.
But there is help for Pittsburgh parents. Early Learning 101 — a free information session for families of children from infants to age 4 — features speakers who will discuss indicators of quality child care, various financial assistance programs, and efforts to expand access and promote affordability.
A recent session was hosted by the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), who has teamed with State Rep. Dan Miller and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit.