John Sperduto: Passionate childcare advocate

Published on: May 19, 2024

John Sperduto: Passionate childcare advocate

As the voice of Early Childhood Education in Delaware County, John Sperduto has been busy lately, but he’s not new to the political fray. He’s been fighting on behalf of quality childcare since 1991.

In April alone, he was part of a legislative panel that made the case for increased state support for Early Childhood Education (ECE) professionals and parents, hosted a meeting of the Child Care Professionals Network (a nonprofit organization he founded 25 years ago), and was invited to join a meeting with U.S. Senator Bob Casey to explain the critical importance of affordable ECE.

“There is now a national crisis in childcare,” says Sperduto. “It’s unaffordable, the staff is underpaid (most could make more working at Target), turnover is high, and the regulations are vast. We’ve lost hundreds of childcare centers across Pennsylvania.”

He has been affiliated with Neumann since 1986 when he enrolled as an undergraduate. He opened his own school in 1991 and stayed connected to the university as an adjunct professor. In 2019, he returned to campus as director of the Child Development Center, a position he still holds.

During the April 5 legislative panel, he addressed the affordability issue. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Delaware County Council allocated $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for childcare.

“With that $5 million, we were able to fund about 1,100 families in the county, close to 1,600 children and nearly 120 childcare programs,” he told the legislators, “but that money is now drying up.”

Sperduto notes that, in Pennsylvania, quality childcare for two children can cost a family more than $25,000 a year.

In his April 15 meeting with Senator Casey, Sperduto emphasized the “snowball effect” of funding ECE. “If parents can afford Early Childhood Education, then centers are open and employing people, parents can work, and kids get high-quality childcare and grow into productive adults who contribute to the tax base.”

On April 10, between his two meetings with elected officials, he hosted an on-campus meeting of CCPN, his nonprofit. More than 90 professionals attended, including two dozen students in Sperduto’s Family-Community Collaboration class, who met stakeholders from across the state.

The organizations made brief presentations and shared plans for June 5, Delco Day in Harrisburg, when they will provide free rides from Media to the Capitol so that parents can meet legislators and share their stories about the affordability and accessibility of high-quality childcare.

High on the June 5 agenda will be requests to adjust state funding available through the PA Department of Human Services Child Care Works program by raising the family income eligibility criteria and the amounts provided through subsidies.

Regardless of the outcome of Delco Day, Sperduto will continue to advocate on behalf of parents and childcare professionals. It’s his mission.





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