PRPS could really use your help as we work to save, protect, and even expand municipal preschool recreation programs used by thousands of Pennsylvania children. The Pennsylvania Senate may consider as early as next week bi-partisan legislation that would permanently protect these programs from closure while ensuring the safety of participating children.
Please contact your state senator to urge support for House Bill 1155
Pennsylvania daycare regulations were designed to provide standards to protect the health, safety, and rights of children in private daycare facilities. Unfortunately, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has extended these regulations by interpretation to municipal preschool recreation programs even though they are not private daycare centers. As a result, municipal preschool recreation programs, some in existence for over 50 years, have been forced to close their doors because it is physically, financially, or otherwise infeasible to be licensed as a daycare program by DHS. Other programs have continued to operate under threat of fines and "cease and desist" letters.
Unlike a private daycare facility subject to an annual or biannual inspection, a municipal recreation program features additional layers of protection for children as municipal park and recreation agencies work closely with police, emergency services, solicitors, and elected officials.
Representatives Barry Jozwiak (R-Berks) and Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) have advanced bi-partisan legislation to protect these programs. House Bill 1155 requires municipalities to adopt by ordinance or resolution a rigorous and detailed set of best health and safety practices in order to offer these preschool recreation programs. These standards will ensure child safety and address the core concerns of parents, professional recreation providers, and state regulators alike.
The municipal preschool recreation programs at risk if House Bill 1155 does not pass provide wonderful opportunities for healthy recreation in the outdoors, pools, and recreation centers that are not part of the typical daycare experience. These experiences can help instill habits, interests, and skills that can last a lifetime. There is extensive research showing the benefits of connecting children with nature and introducing play programs at an early age.
Click here for a sample letter to your state senator that includes many of these same points. We encourage you to personalize the letter if you or your children have benefited from these programs, as well as forward the action alert to park and recreation staff, parents and other community members who would benefit from the preservation of these valuable programs.
Thanks for your help!