MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A roundtable discussion took place in the Poconos with state and local leaders about the challenges the early child care industry is facing.

At the roundtable, those in the industry spoke about how they can’t meet the needs of all children due to staffing issues and lack of state funding.

“How do we keep our quality care without raising tuition for the parents that are already struggling?” said Jennifer Smith, owner, of Wee Wons Daycare and Preschool.

Jennifer Smith owns a daycare in Poconos Summit a facility that she says is lucky to be fully staffed but is unable to expand for the more than 60 children on the waiting list due to limited funding.

Smith attended a roundtable discussion at the Pocono Mountain united way Friday morning to speak about the challenges her industry is facing.

Senator Mario Scavello was in attendance and says the first five years of a child’s life are crucial for education.

“You invest in the kids at an early age, it saves money for the commonwealth and it’s for the right reasons. So that’s what we have to do a better job with the investing,” explained Scavello.

Kimberly early says the Pre-K for pa campaign is asking state policymakers to raise the high-quality pre-kline by 70 million dollars to serve an additional 2,308 children.

“Child care wages are impacting the child care staffing crisis. It’s because of those low wages and benefits that really is the cause to why they aren’t able to recruit the staff that they need,” stated Kimberly.

The extra funding is something that those in the field say would benefit not just the kids but the families.

“It means people in our community can go to work secure knowing that their children are cared for instead of settling for something less, knowing that that can deeply impact their growth and development,” explained Dr. Kate Curry, early childhood faculty, of the Northampton Community College Monroe.

That campaign is also asking for additional funding that would give childcare workers an extra two dollars per hour.