Local Leaders Celebrate New Pre-K Counts Classroom
Applaud Commonwealth’s Expansion of Pre-K Access
Confluence, PA (November 17, 2022) — Somerset County Commissioners and other local leaders visited a new Head Start expansion classroom at the Turkeyfoot Valley Area School District. The Commissioners were joined by Turkeyfoot Valley Area School District and Tableland Services officials, as well as Head Start students to mark the new classrooms with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“I am very excited by so many visitors to our program today to mark the passage of the 2022-23 state budget that includes a $79 million increase for more of Pennsylvania’s three- and four-year-olds to attend Pre-K Counts and Head Start,” said Anne Garrison, Director of Early Childhood Education at Tableland Services. “This $79 million increase is important because we know that 62% of income eligible 3- and 4-year-olds in Somerset County do not yet have access to publicly funded high-quality pre-k. This equates to more than 600 income eligible three- and four-year-olds still lacking access to these services every year in our County.
“Across Pennsylvania more than 100,000 eligible three- and four-year-olds are waiting. Tableland Services, Inc. Early Childhood Programs are committed to helping educate the youngest learners to keep the Commonwealth growing in its early childhood programs.”
The Head Start expansion classroom at Turkeyfoot Valley Area School District was made possible by the infusion of an additional $60 million in funding for the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Program and $19 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program as part of the state’s 2022-2023 state budget. Together, this new funding will allow roughly 2,300 additional students access to high-quality pre-k. Pre-K Counts and the Head Start State Supplemental are the primary state funding sources for high-quality pre-k in Pennsylvania.
Kara McFalls, Associate Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Head Start Association and a principal partner in the Pre-K for PA Campaign, noted that access to high-quality pre-k is an important part of a child’s opportunity to lead a prosperous life. McFalls cited a recent study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill showing that kids enrolled in Pre-K Counts outperformed kindergarten peers who did not have access to pre-k. This advantage equated to four to five months of learning gains, which is a substantial difference in development at that age.
“These outcomes are significant because language and math skills have been shown to be the school readiness skills that most strongly predict later academic achievement,” said McFalls.
McFalls also referenced recent polling data showing that 90 percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania agreed that early care and education are important investments that help set kids on a path to leading healthy and productive lives.
Participants thanked lawmakers for their support at the state level that has led to more state funding for Pre-K Counts and Head Start year after year.
ABOUT PRE-K FOR PA
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 a necessary and urgent priority. For more information, visit prekforpa.org.