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Childcare providers warn of crisis if subsidies stop


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Ed Mahon
September 8, 2020
Child care providers sound the alarm over change in subsidy, some utility shutoffs to resume, and a road trip to 47 Lebanons. It's fall (sort of?)
Child care providers are warning that a new policy from Gov. Tom Wolf's administration could cause permanent damage to the industry, WHYY reports.

The dispute goes back to this spring, when the Wolf administration continued paying centers through its Child Care Works subsidy for low-income families based on attendance before the pandemic. Now, the Wolf administration is returning to the old practice of providing money only for children in attendance. But some child care providers say enrollment is still low. (If you have children, you know how painstaking the decision can be...)

THE CONTEXT: The state's more than 7,000 licensed child care providers struggled during the pandemic, as highlighted by a recent Penn State study. The Wolf administration said in late August that the state had distributed $104 million to child care providers through federal CARES Act money, and planned to distribute $117 million more. And Wolf has proposed sending more CARES Act funding to child care centers.

But Pennsylvania and other states are facing many budget challenges. The bipartisan National Governors Association estimates without action from the federal government, state and local governments will need to cut more than $500 billion. The Associated Press ran down some of the cuts states are considering across the country, and potential targets include schools, childhood vaccinations, and job-training programs.

“People are seeing the power of direct action to effect change.” — Valerie Braman, a labor educator at Pennsylvania State University, describing the connection between fights for racial justice and labor rights
POST IT: Julie Jones (@jljmd83) shares a sunset photo of Chickies Rock in Lancaster County. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
SMALL IS THE NEW BIG: GoErie explores whether the rise of remote working could benefit smaller, more affordable cities like Erie. “Everything that is great about San Francisco and New York is inaccessible right now,” said Sean Fedorko, cofounder of Radius CoWork in the Northwestern Pennsylvania city.

SHUTOFFS RESUME:  After months of providing a reprieve during the coronavirus pandemic, some municipalities are now telling customers they will shut off their utilities for unpaid bills, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The move comes as the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which is short a member, has been deadlocked on the question of when to allow large public utilities to resume shutoffs.

MASK CHALLENGE: PennLive has the details of a new legal challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf's emergency powers — this one from two Pennsylvania couples whose lawsuit argues that choosing to wear a mask is a political statement and "for many ... a symbol of oppression and government tyranny." A reminder: Health experts say wearing masks is not a symbol, but instead a way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

DISBAND THE POLICE? The idea led to a filled conference room in Cambria County, with most opposed, the Altoona Mirror reports. The story doesn't mention any discussion of national protests. Instead, township leaders are thinking of shifting the cost to state police — an evergreen issue in the Capitol.

MAYOR PETE: Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay major presidential candidate, endorsed the Democratic challenger to state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler). Daniel Smith, who is also gay, is challenging Metcalfe for a second time. Last time, Metcalfe's campaign sent out a mailer that put the word husband in quotation marks.

MAILBAG: The Washington Post analyzed the 2016 presidential election results in seven regions of Pennsylvania. It's an interesting story. And I'm curious to hear what you think of how they define the regions. Send us a note, or ask a question about Pennsylvania issues and we'll answer it here.

TAKE 5: In a recent Wall Street Journal column about ways to handle stress during the pandemic, Elizabeth Bernstein mentioned the approach of thinking about yourself in the third-person. This Business Insider story from several years ago has more on the research behind this idea of "self-distancing." 

47 LEBANONS: When I think of Lebanon, I think of the country, the bologna, and the city and county near Harrisburg. I didn't know there were so many other Lebanons in America until I listened to a recent "Radio Lab" episode, featuring photographer Fadi BouKaram. He decided to leave Beirut and travel to every city, town, and village in the U.S. that shared the name of his country. His trip took him to Pennsylvania for Christmas in 2016.

US OPEN CONTENDER:  Jennifer Brady, a Central Pennsylvania native, reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal with a victory Sunday. ESPN explained her rise.

WHAT TO READ TO IF ... You're thinking of heading back to a movie theater. Inquirer film critic Gary Thompson breaks down what's coming out this fall in theaters and streaming platforms. I'm tempted by many of the action movies and "Soul," a Pixar movie featuring Upper Darby's own Tina Fey.
Unscramble and send your answer to newsletters@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Friday's answer: Barbecue

Congrats to our weekly winner Becca W. who will receive some awesome Spotlight PA swag!

Congrats to our daily winners: Kathleen M., Lynne E., Beth M., Brandie K., Patricia R., David I., Chris M., Theodore W., Lester H., John C., Karen W., Joel S., Carol D., Karen A., Jan C., Daniel G., Becca W., Thomas B., and Ann and John.
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