York Officials Celebrate Expansion of High-Quality Pre-K, Urge State to Continue Investing in Increased Access

YORK, PA (Dec. 2, 2014) – State, county and city officials today helped mark the opening of two pre-kindergarten classrooms at the York YWCA, but noted the new classrooms are just a small step toward serving thousands of young learners in York County who lack access to high-quality pre-k.

The new classrooms were made possible by the infusion of an additional $10 million in funding for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts in the state’s fiscal 2014-15 budget. Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) are the primary state-level funding sources for high-quality pre-k in Pennsylvania.

York County Commissioner Chris Reilly said the new pre-k classrooms are a step in the right direction, but noted access to high-quality pre-k in York County is still among the worst in state.

“Only 9 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in York County have access to publicly funded, high quality pre-k – leaving more than 9,000 of our county’s 3- and 4-year-olds without access each year,” Reilly said. “This is simply unacceptable.”

Statewide, only 1 in 6 of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds benefit from publicly funded, high-quality pre-k, leaving more than 200,000 young learners missing out. This lack of access to high-quality pre-k is especially troubling considering the proven benefits it has for children, schools and communities. A large body of research shows children who benefit from high-quality pre-k:

    • Enter kindergarten with stronger literacy, language, math and social/emotional skills;
    • Are less likely to need special education services, less likely to repeat grades, and more likely to graduate and enroll in college.
    • Over a lifetime, these young learners will see stronger employment opportunities and increased earning potential, and they will be less likely to end up on the wrong side of the law.

York County District Attorney Thomas Kearney, York City Police Chief Wesley Kahley, and York County Sheriff Richard Keuerleber stressed the benefits high-quality pre-k has in reducing disruptive or anti-social behaviors that, if unaddressed, can lead to delinquent or criminal behavior. All three are members of the statewide anti-crime organization FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS. Kearney noted research has shown kids who attend high-quality early learning programs are dramatically less likely to commit crime and more likely to graduate high school.

“A review of the education statistics of Pennsylvania’s inmate population reveals that more than half of inmates have not graduated high school,” Kearney said. “This is more evidence that there is a clear choice to either educate or incarcerate -and it is imperative that education must start early.”

Chief Kahley added: “The cost-benefit studies regarding high-quality pre-k show that for every dollar we invest in high-quality programs like the York YWCA, we see a resulting long-term savings of about $17. The bulk of these cost savings arise from reductions in criminal justice savings.”

The statewide, nonpartisan Pre-K for PA campaign was launched in January with 10 founding partner organizations and has since grown to more than 500 supporting organizations and about 10,000 individuals who support the goal of expanding access to high-quality pre-k through stronger state-level investments.

In York County, supporters of the Pre-K for PA campaign include: York YWCA; York County United Way; York Community Foundation; various YMCA’s throughout York County; York JCC; York School of Technology; and various early learning providers throughout the York region that share the vision that all 3- and 4-year-olds should have access to high-quality pre-K.

Pre-K for PA is an issue campaign supported by thousands of individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe that investing in our children is the right choice and an urgent necessity. Our vision is that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. While the campaign neither endorses nor opposes candidates, it advocates on behalf of this vision for Pennsylvania’s children, schools and communities. For more information, visit prekforpa.org.

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Contact:

Michael Race (Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children), 717-236-5680 or mrace@papartnerships.org

Bruce Clash (FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS), 717-385-5300 or bclash@fightcrime.org

Kate Philips, 215-850-4647

 

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