Early Learning Advocates Urge Bi-partisan Support of 2016-17 Investment Proposal
HARRISBURG (Feb. 9, 2016)— The Pre-K for PA campaign, along with the Early Learning PA (ELPA) coalition, lauded Gov. Tom Wolf’s continued commitment to expanding access to pre-k in Pennsylvania after he announced a $120 million multi-year investment in his 2016-17 budget address today, which includes the new $30 million, six-month appropriation enacted last December.
The principal partners of the Pre-K for PA and Early Learning PA issued the following statement regarding this budget proposal:
“Given the dire state of the commonwealth’s finances, it’s especially important to note that Gov. Wolf remains committed to make high-quality child care, home visiting and pre-k available to more kids. It’s clear that he and many legislators understand that we must play the long game and invest in kids while addressing the short game by balancing the state budget.”
“Support for expanded access to pre-k and other early learning investments such as Child Care Works and evidence-based home visiting has become a bipartisan priority that has generated enormous energy among a diverse collection of stakeholders across the commonwealth. ELPA and Pre-K for PA urge the governor and legislature to kick off this next round of budget discussions by coming together behind a budget agreement that generates enough revenue to balance the budget and makes continued progress on substantial investments in child care, home visiting and pre-k that ensure our kids will enter school ready to learn. These public investments reap strong returns that strengthen our commonwealth.”
Governor Wolf’s budget proposal included:
- $120 million in additional funding over two years for high-quality pre-k, which includes the $30 million in new funding already enacted for the second half of the current school year. If realized, Pennsylvania’s investment will rise to $197.284 million in Pre-K Counts and $59.178 million in the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program in FY 2016-17.
- An additional $10 million investment in evidence-based home visiting programs that would support 1,900 higher risk, low-income children and their parents.
- Investing $12 million more in child care subsidy funding making it possible for up to 2,247 kids currently on state waiting lists to enroll in a child care program.
The groups expressed their disappointment that the governor’s early childhood education proposal did not include an effort to improve the rate structure for programs serving children in Child Care Works. The current rate structure fails to provide necessary support to deliver high-quality child care to our children.
“Pennsylvania’s early childhood education system is based on a commitment to improve the quality, access and availability of early learning for children at-risk of school failure. High-quality early childhood education is a vital component to closing the achievement gap, producing qualified workers and providing short- and long-term economic returns to Pennsylvania taxpayers. The commonwealth must increase its reimbursement rates to better reflect the true cost of quality child care service in order to achieve its goal of high-quality child care for all kids.”
Pre-K for PA was launched in 2014 with the vision that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k and has 13,000 members. This statewide coalition’s leadership group includes: Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; Economy League of Greater Philadelphia; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Mission: Readiness; Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; Pennsylvania Head Start Association; Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; Public Citizens for Children and Youth; and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.www.prekforpa.org
Early Learning PA also was launched in 2014 with the vision that, by 2020, all Pennsylvania children will have access to high-quality early learning opportunities. Its founding members include: the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Mission: Readiness; Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; Pennsylvania Child Care Association; Pennsylvania Head Start Association; Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; and Public Citizens for Children and Youth.