NPR: In Allentown, Gov. Wolf celebrates early learning funding, unveils free breakfast program

September 9, 2022 by Sarah Mueller

Gov. Tom Wolf visited the Volunteers of America Children’s Center in Allentown to celebrate increased state funding for early education in this year’s budget.

He also came with a big announcement: free breakfast for every child enrolled in school this academic year. It takes effect Oct. 1 and will benefit more than 1.7 million children at a cost of about $21.5 million.

Wolf briefly played parachute with a group of small children at The Children’s Center before holding a news conference.

Lawmakers approved an additional $79 million in this year’s state budget, targeted for high-quality preschool programs through Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.

Wolf says it’s OK to celebrate all of the strides his administration has made on this issue over his eight years of leadership.

“But as soon as we finish patting ourselves on the back, I think we also need to understand we need to get back to work,” he said. “We need to recommit ourselves to doing more.”

Children’s Center Director Betty Druckenmiller says the facility is only at 60 percent capacity because she can’t find qualified staff to fill vacant positions.

“I have an empty classroom and shortened hours and we would absolutely add more people if we had the qualified teachers to do it,” she said.

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