House Bill 218 Does Not Adequately Invest in Services for PA’s Youngest Citizens

House Bill 218 Does Not Adequately Invest in Services for PA’s Youngest Citizens

House Bill 218 Does Not Adequately Invest in Services for PA’s Youngest Citizens

Harrisburg, PA (April 4, 2017) – As the Pennsylvania budget process gets underway today with the House of Representatives approving House Bill 218, the Pre-K for PA campaign issued a statement on the passage of a budget that does not adequately invest in Pennsylvania’s early learning continuum.

House Bill 218 included a $25 million increase to high-quality pre-k ($20 million for Pre-K Counts and $5 million for Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program), which is $50 million less than Governor Wolf’s proposed investment.

House Bill 218 also included deep cuts to other programs that ensure Pennsylvania’s earliest learners are prepared to be successful in school and beyond, including nearly $62 million less than Governor Wolf’s FY 2017-18 proposal for child care, a $28 million cut to the FY 2016-17 budget.

The principal partners of Pre-K for PA issued the following statement regarding the passage of HB 218:

“The budget process is never easy, and it is just getting underway, but today the House approved a budget introduced only yesterday that falls far short of what could be considered an adequate investment in services to our youngest citizens. Pennsylvania delivers high-quality, publicly-funded pre-k to many children, but nearly 113,000 remain unserved and a serious investment must be made to continue toward the goal of providing access to all at-risk kids.

“Pre-k doesn’t just benefit the children fortunate enough to access a high-quality program, it benefits the entire commonwealth. Research shows that every dollar invested in high-quality pre-k returns up to $17 in long-term savings and benefits through reduced costs to our schools and society, stronger earnings potential in our workforce and increased tax revenues supporting a more robust economy.

“A strong pre-k system is dependent on an appropriately financed child care system and this proposal will continue to undermine child care financing in our state. This lack of adequate funding undermines the continuum of high-quality early learning in Pennsylvania. The stronger the investment in high-quality early learning – including pre-k, child care and home visiting – the greater the return – for our children and our commonwealth.

“We urge legislators to continue investing in early learning for the sake of young children and our commonwealth and support a FY 2017-18 state budget that includes an increase of $75 million for pre-k, a $35 million increase in funding for child care and a $9 million increase in home visiting services.”

Community-Based Family Center and Nurse-Family Partnerships appropriations were also cut from the current fiscal year and HB 218 fails to include Governor Wolf’s proposed $9 million allocation for evidence-based home visiting to expand the reach of these and other similar programs.

Currently in Pennsylvania, there are more than 112,900 eligible preschool children, or 64 percent statewide, who qualify for high-quality, publicly funded pre-k but remain unserved. Governor Wolf’s budget proposal included $65 million in additional funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program and an additional $10 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. This $75 million expansion would serve more than 8,400 additional young children.

Pre-K for PA is an issue campaign supported by individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe that investing in our children is the right choice and an urgent necessity. Its vision is that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. For more information visit www.prekforpa.org.

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