Founding Member of ‘Pre-K for PA’ Attends White House Summit on Early Education

 WASHINGTON D.C.: The executive director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), Michelle Figlar, traveled to Washington D.C. alongside Mayor William Peduto today to attend a White House Summit on early education.

“Each day I work alongside many of the commonwealth’s early education advocates fighting to ensure that our children are given the necessary tools to succeed, so to represent them at such an historic event is an indescribable honor,” said Figlar, who also serves as co-chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Early Education. “The summit is a significant opportunity to discuss the lifelong benefits of early learning and I am optimistic the work done today will help precipitate stronger public investments in early learning.”

At the summit, President Obama announced several grant awards to help 18 states develop or expand pre-k programs. Pennsylvania had applied for a pre-k expansion grant, but was not among today’s grant recipients, further underscoring the need for stronger investments in high-quality pre-k at the state level.

“Currently, only about 1 in 6 of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds has access to publicly funded, high-quality pre-k, despite its many proven benefits to kids, schools and communities,” Figlar said. “If we want to make the most of all that high-quality pre-k offers, we need to boost public investments in it – and if there isn’t funding available at the federal level, we need to make sure the state prioritizes it as part of Pennsylvania’s budget.”

Mayor Peduto praised Figlar for her organization’s commitment to early learning programs.

“Michelle’s experience and expertise advocating for increased early education makes her the perfect choice to attend this important national summit,” Mayor Peduto said. “The evidence is clear that for every dollar we invest in early childhood education, we see a rate of return of $7 or more through a reduced need for spending on other services, such as remedial education, grade repetition, and special education, as well as increased productivity and earnings for these children as adults.”

The White House Summit brought together a broad array of stakeholders from the philanthropic community, business leaders, elected officials and education advocates committed to expanding access to high-quality early education. The summit builds on the president’s call in his 2013 State of the Union address to expand access to high-quality early childhood education to every child in America.

As part of that effort, the president proposed a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child – beginning at birth and continuing to age 5. The proposal includes extending and expanding evidence-based, voluntary home visiting, growing the supply of effective early learning opportunities for young children through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, and increasing access to high-quality pre-k.

PAEYC is a principal partner in the Pre-K for PA campaign, a nonpartisan issue campaign supported by individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe that investing in our children is the right choice and an urgent necessity. The campaign’s vision is that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. To that end, campaign supporters are urging Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf and the Republican-led General Assembly to work together to enact a multi-year plan to accomplish this vision.

Along with PAEYC, the coalition was created by statewide partners including: the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; Economy League of Greater Philadelphia; Public Citizens for Children and Youth; United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey; Fight Crime, Invest in Kids; Mission: Readiness; Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; Pennsylvania Head Start Association; and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.

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