Pre-k / Early Learning Advocates Call for Renewed Commitment to Pre-k, Quality Child Care and Home Visiting Programs
HARRISBURG (July 15, 2016)— Partners in the Pre-K for PA and Early Learning PA campaigns credited nearly 20,000 supporters for the adoption of a budget that maintains the commonwealth’s investment in high-quality pre-k programs. The Campaigns renewed a call for making more substantial progress in its efforts to expand essential early childhood programs.
The principal partners of the Pre-K for PA and Early Learning PA Campaigns issued the following statement regarding the enactment of the final 2016-17 state budget:
“Given the obvious constraints of this year’s state budget negotiations, we are heartened by the fact that the final 2016-17 budget puts the funds on the table to essentially maintain the capacity of the state’s pre-k programs. Had the legislature and governor not provided a combined $30 million increase in the appropriations for Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental, these programs would have been forced to weather significant cuts and thousands of children would have lost access to these critical early learning opportunities.
“We will continue to urge lawmakers to make more progress next year, as current state funding represents a small portion of investment needed relative to the needs of our children. During the upcoming school year, Pennsylvania will leave nearly 200,000 3- and 4-year-olds without the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn in a high-quality pre-k program. Even with the funds provided for pre-k in the FY ‘17 budget only 31% of kids eligible for state funded programs like Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance will have access.
“Our coalition of educators and pediatricians standing alongside law enforcement, military, business and community leaders as well as nearly 20,000 citizen supporters will be redoubling our efforts over the coming months to demonstrate support for state budgets that generate the revenue necessary to make the urgent and substantial investments needed in child care, home visiting and pre-k programs that ensure our kids will enter school ready to learn.”
Partners of the Early Learning PA Campaigns also expressed disappointment that the final budget included:
A $20 million reduction in state appropriations for child care services. The budget agreement compensated for this cut by tapping federal funds that otherwise could have been used to expand child care access and quality;
Level state funding for evidence–based home visiting programs that support higher-risk, low-income children and their parents despite a growing unmet need.
Pennsylvania’s early childhood education system is a continuum of programs including quality pre-k, child care and home visiting services that are vital components to closing the achievement gap, producing qualified workers and providing short- and long-term economic returns to Pennsylvania taxpayers.
Pre-K for PA was launched in 2014 with the vision that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k and has 13,000 members. This statewide coalition’s leadership group includes: Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; Economy League of Greater Philadelphia; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Mission: Readiness; Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; Pennsylvania Head Start Association; Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; Public Citizens for Children and Youth; and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.www.prekforpa.org
Early Learning PA also was launched in 2014 with the vision that, by 2020, all Pennsylvania children will have access to high-quality early learning opportunities. Its founding members include: the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Mission: Readiness; Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; Pennsylvania Child Care Association; Pennsylvania Head Start Association; Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; and Public Citizens for Children and Youth.