Since opening in early September, the La Petite Academy childcare center at Pittsburgh International Airport has received international media coverage and garnered praise from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden during a visit to the airport.
The latest kudos come from one of the nation’s leading politicians, a tireless advocate for childcare access and funding for her entire career.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts (D-5th), the House minority whip, recently visited the childcare center with U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-17th) of Pennsylvania, whose district includes PIT.
Airport CEO Christina Cassotis hosted the legislators and their staffs during a tour of the Terminal Modernization Program, the airport’s $1.57 billion project to build a new landside terminal and multi-modal complex, and La Petite Academy, which is housed where the airport’s former E Gates were located.
“We built this facility to help lower the barriers to employment for our staff and other workers here at the airport, but we really hope it’s a model for other employers to follow,” Cassotis said. “This is an issue that is critical across all industries, and we want to lead the way to show it can be done and done well.”
A manager guided the group through the center, which can enroll up to 55 children from infant through pre-K ages. The center’s operator, Michigan-based Learning Care Group, runs more than 1,000 facilities across the nation that serve more than 150,000 children.
With separate rooms for different age groups, an outdoor play area and aviation-themed toys and learning tools—as well as a direct view of planes taking off and landing on one of the airport’s four runways—the center impressed Clark and Deluzio, as did the vision of airport and LCG officials to make it happen.
“This childcare center at Pittsburgh International Airport is an important model for other employers in Western Pennsylvania and across the country, and I am grateful Whip Clark could join me today to see it. Making childcare more affordable should be a no-brainer that will lower costs for working families,” Deluzio said.
“We’re seeing good leadership and a model of an employer that can do this. Let’s expand that and make sure the federal government is making that investment, too.”
Clark said she believes the center can drive more attention to the lack of childcare access nationwide.
“Since the pandemic, there really has been a paradigm shift” in how childcare is viewed, she said. “It is not just considered a private matter for families. We understand it is the underpinning of our economy. It truly is economic infrastructure.”