Governor Wolf’s 2018-19 Budget Proposal, Ambitious Steps Forward for Early Learning in PA
Pre-K for PA, Early Learning PA Salutes Gov. Wolf’s Commitment to High-Quality Pre-k, Child Care Access, and Evidence-Based Home Visiting 

HARRISBURG (Feb. 6, 2018)— The Pre-K for PA campaign, an initiative of the Early Learning PA (ELPA) coalition, saluted Governor Tom Wolf’s continued commitment to expanding access to early learning from birth to age five in Pennsylvania after he announced a $40 million expansion to high quality pre-k; a $6.5 million expansion to evidence-based home visiting programs; and a $23 million expansion to the state’s child care system, which will expand access to subsidized child care and increase funding for high quality programs as part of his 2018-19 budget address today.

The principal partners of Pre-K for PA and Early Learning PA issued the following statement regarding the 2018-19 budget proposal:

“Governor Wolf’s 2018-19 budget proposal once again shows the Governor’s commitment to making wise use of public funds by proposing significant expansions in access to high-quality pre-k. We know that investing in pre-K also has widespread support in the legislature and for that reason we urge the legislature to fully fund the $40 million proposal in order to serve 4,400 more children next year.

“In states across the country we are seeing impressive investments in pre-k, which we hope will serve as an incentive to fully fund this proposal and inspire Pennsylvania to ramp up its investment in the coming years. New Jersey is spending five times more per capita for pre-k than Pennsylvania. West Virginia, which launched its pre-k program in 1983 and made it universal for all four-year-olds six years ago, is investing at three times the rate per-capita than Pennsylvania. In fact, Pennsylvania ranks 18th of the 30 states investing in high-quality, publicly funded pre-k.

“Today only 39 percent of eligible children in Pennsylvania benefit from the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend high quality publicly funded pre-k. Pennsylvania can serve the 106,200 eligible children by 2022, if Pennsylvania lawmakers fully fund Gov. Wolf’s $40 million proposed new investment and the state grows its investment with an additional $270 million over the next three years. If our neighboring states can prioritize pre-k, why not PA? 

“Governor Wolf’s proposal also recognizes the importance of child care as a vital workforce support for young Pennsylvania families and a delivery system for high quality pre-k. In fact, 48 percent of children enrolled in Pre-K Counts are served by STAR 3 and 4 child care providers. We applaud efforts to again reduce the state’s waiting list for Child Care Works and increase tiered reimbursement rates for Keystone STAR two, three, and four programs. We are also excited that in addition to child care and pre-k, the proposal also grows funding for evidence-based home visiting programs.”

Governor Wolf’s budget proposal included:

  • $30 million in additional funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program and an additional $10 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. This $40 million expansion would serve 4,400 additional young children. Currently more than 106,000 eligible three- and four-year-olds do not have access to high-quality publicly funded pre-k programs.
  • An additional $6.5 million investment in evidence-based home visiting programs expands home visiting for 800 eligible families and includes a cost of living adjustment for the two long standing home visiting models (Nurse Family Partnership and Family Centers – Parents as Teachers) who haven’t had a rate increase in nearly a decade.
  • Investing $10 million more to expand access to 1,600 additional families waiting for access to the child care subsidy.
  • $10 million in state funding coupled with $5 million in federal funding for increased tiered reimbursement rates for Keystone STAR two, three, and four child care providers.
  • $3 million for a pilot program serving infants and toddlers in high quality child care.