Pittsburgh’s child care programs, which were hard hit by shutdowns during the pandemic, are getting a $4.4 million boost from The Heinz Endowments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how essential child care is to working families and employers, in addition to highlighting the fragility of the child care system,” said Dr. Philip Sirinides, director of Penn State Harrisburg’s Institute of State and Regional Affairs, which studied the issue“Without assistance, the impacts of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for months or possibly years as child care providers try to reopen, rebuild and traverse their new normal.”

The grants will support families with newborns, early childhood services and education, and advocacy efforts in the prenatal through age 3 care and education sectors.

“The pandemic ripped open the curtain on the precarious state of our nation’s early childhood care and education system, and has made abundantly clear how essential that system is to the healthy development of America’s children, and to the future of our economy,” said Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant in a statement announcing the grants. “While recent state and federal funding is significant, we must do more to make up for chronic underfunding and invest in a system that truly works for every child.”

The largest grant of $800,000 is going to the Allegheny County Department of Human Services’ Hello Baby initiative, a data-driven program that predicts risk for all babies born in the county and connects families to services. 

Other major grants are:

  • $700,00 to the Education Law Center to advance education justice;
  • $600,000 to the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children to implement equity-centered advocacy in reaching pregnant women and families;
  • $500,000 to Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children to increase access to high-quality early care and education programs;
  • $400,000 to Reading Is Fundamental Pittsburgh to support Storymobile and Book Babies programming; 
  • $400,000 to the MomsRising Education Fund to engage, educate and empower parents and caregivers to influence policies affecting the early learning sector.

“The past year has been challenging for us and the families we serve, and without this type of equity investment, we would not be able to offer high-quality, nationally-accredited care to our community,” said Leon Haynes, founding CEO of Hosanna House, which received $400,000 to provide child care at no cost for families that qualify. “This support helps to ensure that our children are prepared as well as any child can be for kindergarten and beyond, with a goal of ending a life cycle of poverty for all children.”