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Can $100M fix PA's child care staffing crisis?

Plus, Kensington crackdowns.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2024
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Today: Child care crisis, Kensington crackdowns, GOP vs. Krasner, loud nature, no relief, food fight, and the Beaver Stadium overhaul.
Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro wants $100 million more to support child care services in Pennsylvania, but advocates say addressing a staffing crisis made worse by COVID-19 will take much more than that.

"We are still in crisis mode in the industry," said Jen DeBell, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children. "Programs are having a really hard time both recruiting and retaining staff."

Johnstown-area nonprofit the Learning Lamp is one example. It serves about 900 children a year in child care and preschool programs across multiple counties and had about 100 job openings and about 550 children on its waiting list as of March, president and CEO Leah Spangler explained.

With Pennsylvania's budget surplus expected to hit roughly $14 billion by the end of June, advocates are calling for $284 million in new and recurring state funding for a recruitment and retention initiative. But Republicans who control the state Senate are already warning against heightened spending.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Can $100M fix staff shortage fueling PA child care crisis? Providers say it’s not nearly enough.
Support Spotlight PA's unmatched election reporting that puts voters first.

"There is no trade for vouchers."

—State Sen. Lindsey Williams (D., Allegheny) on Tuesday's revival of a school voucher push that was a major sticking point during last year's budget talks
Tree with a funky trunk, via Robert N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
A tree rising toward the sky with a bend in its trunk.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
CLEARING KENSINGTON: Philadelphia plans to clear homeless encampments in Kensington today, a neighborhood that's become a poster child for the city's drug epidemic. Media is being corralled by Democratic Mayor Cherelle Parker's administration. Billy Penn outlines the hurdles that faced decades of similar efforts there.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
WARRANT WATCH: Pennsylvania House Republicans are again targeting progressive Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, this time over the rescinded arrest warrant for state Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Philadelphia). The warrant was withdrawn a day before the primary. The Capital-Star reports the GOP wants Attorney General Michelle Henry to investigate whether that was a violation of state election law.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
FLY OVER: A Maryland Air National Guard plan to conduct low-altitude fighter jet trainings over the peaceful Pennsylvania Wilds has been called off, the Bay Journal reports. The plan, first reported by Spotlight PA in 2021, drew pushback from north-central Pennsylvania residents and officials worried about impacts on tourism and residents.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
LOAN FAILURES: Pennsylvania’s student financial aid agency is being fined $1.7 million for mishandling thousands of student loan relief requests. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accuses the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency of denying, ignoring, or otherwise mishandling the requests.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
CULTURED WAR: U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) is in agreement with Florida's ban on lab-grown cultured meat, which earned regulatory approval last year. Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) floated a similar ban here in January, but Scientific American calls them "evidence free" and the economic warnings overblown.
SIXERS SUPPORT: Philly's branch of the NAACP has endorsed plans for a new Sixers’ arena in Center City, WHYY reports. But opposition remains in several surrounding neighborhoods, including Chinatown.

$700M VOTE: Penn State's Board of Trustees will meet May 21 to discuss "proposed project approval" for a planned $700 million overhaul of Beaver Stadium. The meeting will be livestreamed, per FanNation.

TREE OF LIFE: A descendent of a tree outside the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is growing in Pittsburgh. TribLIVE reports a state nursery in Indiana grew the offspring, which was dedicated on Monday.

TRAIL WARNING: Dog treats with fish hooks in them were found along a stretch of the Appalachian Trail in Lehigh County, prompting a warning from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, via Lehigh Valley Live.

IN THE WORKS: An adaptation of James McBride’s acclaimed Pottstown-set novel, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, is reportedly in the works from studio A24 and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment.
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