University of Pittsburgh
April 20, 2004

"Virtual" Child Care Strike April 23 Calls Attention To Need for Child Care Funding

Project spearheaded by United for Children, based in Pitt's Office of Child Development

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—United for Children—the Pitt-based planning group for Allegheny County in matters regarding early child care and education—is urging all parents of children in child care centers licensed and/or regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to wear blue ribbons to work Friday, April 23, in a show of support for federal child care funding. The ribbons, to be distributed to parents at centers Friday morning when children are dropped off for care, could indicate that the participating parent might not be able to work if he or she did not have child care.

By wearing the blue ribbon, parents, child care providers, and advocates will be voicing to employers, government leaders, and the general community the need for increased funding.

Organizers of the "virtual" child care strike say federal funding for child care has not increased in three years, even though the cost of that care continues to climb. This limited funding makes it difficult for providers to attract and retain qualified staff members who make, according to 2002 data, $17,250 a year, on average, in their first year on the job in Pennsylvania. According to the 2002 PA Family Survey, low-income families that year spent between 5 and 18 percent of their annual income on child care, compared to the 1 to 5 percent spent by high-income families.

In Pennsylvania, 64 percent of families with children under six years of age were using child care services in 2002, and some 24 percent of those children were in more than one type of child care arrangement every week. The Pennsylvania Department of Welfare reports that the average parent loses eight days of work a year because of child care problems. These absences, according to a national survey conducted by Harris Interactive CCH, cost an employer an average of $645 per employee per day.

Organizers hope the "virtual" strike will provide a visual account of just how many families are impacted by child care in Allegheny County. In 2001, there were approximately 30,000 children in state licensed and/or regulated child care facilities.

For more information on the "virtual" child care strike, call Wendy Etheridge Smith at United for Children at 412-244-7089.