Easton Express Times: Letter to the Editor: PA Budget Must Address Pre-K Programs, Day Care

As state budget talks continue, it’s important for Pennsylvania parents and taxpayers to understand what’s at stake when it comes to the early learning investments.

Right now only about one in six Pennsylvania 3- and 4-year-olds has access to a high-quality pre-k program, despite its proven benefits in preparing kids for success in kindergarten. That means more than 200,000 3- and 4-year-olds aren’t benefiting from high-quality pre-k. State leaders can shrink this number by boosting Pennsylvania’s pre-k investments in this year’s budget.

The budget talks also could impact access to high-quality child care. Child care can be expensive. Many low-income families need help to pay for it so parents can go to work and know their child is in a safe, nurturing environment. High-quality child care makes employees more reliable and productive, decreases turnover and absenteeism, and increases retention and productivity. It pays off for children, parents and employers.

Together, high-quality child care and pre-k have been proven to help prepare young learners prepare for school by building their academic and social skills. It’s 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.

Tamara Hammer

Read the Letter to the Editor here.