Scranton Times: Letter to the Editor – Fund Pre-k Programs

Editor: As state budget talks continue, Pennsylvania parents and taxpayers should understand what is at stake regarding early-learning investments.

Right now, only about one in six of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-four-year-old children has access to quality pre-kindergarten despite the proven benefits in preparing children for success in kindergarten. That means more than 200,000 of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds do not benefit from quality pre-k. State leaders can reduce this number by boosting Pennsylvania’s investments in this year’s budget.

The budget talks also could affect access to quality child care. Child care has become the norm for young children and can be expensive. Many low-income families need assistance to pay for child care so parents can go to work and know their child is in a safe, nurturing environment that provides appropriate learning experiences for young children.

Quality child care makes employees more reliable and productive, decreases employee turnover and absenteeism and increase employee retention and productivity. Quality child care benefits children, parents, employers and society as a whole — both now and in the future.

Together, quality child care and pre-k have proved to help prepare young learners for school by building their academic and social skills. It is an investment that pays off, but we need to invest more to get a fuller return on investment.

As Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers negotiate a state spending plan, they need to make sure these early learning investments are well represented in Pennsylvania’s budget priorities.

JUDITH LOCKER FANELLI

PRESIDENT, NORTHEASTERN CHILD CARE SERVICES

TREASURE HOUSE CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTERS,

SCRANTON

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