Pennsylvanians to Legislature: Fund Pre-k

Hundreds sign letters to the legislature calling for $90 million investment to expand pre-k to thousands of at-risk kids across PA

Harrisburg, PA (June 13, 2016) – Hundreds of Pennsylvanians are waging a campaign to ensure pre-k is a top priority at the 2016-17 budget-negotiating table. The letters from military leaders, philanthropic groups, CEOs and citizens urge the Pennsylvania legislature and the governor to expand access to thousands of at-risk kids in the final 2016-17 budget.

In three separate letters to leadership offices of the Pennsylvania legislature, signers from the United Way of Pennsylvania, Mission: Readiness and supporting organizations of the Pre-K for PA campaign, urged leaders in Harrisburg to cement bi-partisan consensus around a multi-year goal for growing access to high-quality pre-k for all of the income eligible children and begin looking at pre-k affordability issues regarding middle class families. Specifically, they called for $90 million in additional funding as part of the 2016-17 final state budget. A similar letter signed by Pre-K for PA Executive Leadership Council members landed in Harrisburg last week.

“We need the commonwealth to step up its efforts to fund high-quality pre-k so we can reach those children who are missing out, particularly those at risk of academic failure,” said Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania in the letter. “On behalf of the United Way of Pennsylvania and our local United Ways across Pennsylvania, we support the Pre-K for PA campaign’s request to increase state pre-k funding by $90 million for fiscal 2016-17 and urge lawmakers to make this a clear priority in the coming budget deliberations.”

This proposal builds on the $30 million in new funding already enacted for the second half of the current school year. If realized, $120 million in additional funding over two years for high-quality pre-k will serve an additional 14,000 3- and 4-year-olds.

“For years, the military has provided high-quality early learning programs for all active-duty service personnel,” said Steve Doster, Pennsylvania State Director, Mission: Readiness – Military Leaders for Kids. “Pennsylvania should take the military’s lead and continue to prioritize greater access to pre-k.”

Across Pennsylvania, there are more than 175,000 3- and 4-year-olds who are at-risk because they are in lower income households – 70 percent of these at-risk young learners – more than 120,000 children statewide – had no access to publicly funded pre-k last year. Full text of all letters and lists of signers can be found at www.prekforpa.org/dearlawmaker.

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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