Pre-K for PA Partners Push for Greater Access to Pre-K at Philadelphia Mayor’s Event

PA’s Missed Opportunity for Federal Grant Would Have Served 2,300 PA Kids

Philadelphia, PA – Several founding members of the statewide Pre-K for PA campaign led an early learning summit today hosted by Mayor Michael Nutter, including The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, and Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC).

The event, an opportunity for business and civic leaders to discuss the importance of expanding local access to higher quality pre-k, comes a day after federal grants were awarded to 18 states for the development or expansion of pre-k. Pennsylvania had applied for a share of the federal funding, but missed out on a $20 million, 4-year federal grant that could have provided high-quality pre-k for an additional 2,314 Pennsylvania 4-year-olds each year.

“Thinking about more than 2,000 kids missing out on an opportunity to begin early learning, we can’t help being disappointed,” said Steve Wray, Executive Director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. “The missed opportunity for these kids also placed a spotlight on the enormous unmet needs among early learners in Pennsylvania. Today, 70% of Pennsylvania 3-and 4-year olds don’t have access to quality pre-k.

“The time has come for Pennsylvania to take action on behalf of its future leaders,” Wray continued. “Pre-K for PA and its thousands of supporters are calling on Gov.-elect Tom Wolf and the legislature to make this the top legislative priority in 2015. Each year Pennsylvania lawmakers delay making a serious investment in early learning, more than 200,000 kids are starting school behind their classmates.”

The federal government did announce on Wednesday $11.5 million in Head Start funding for six Pennsylvania grantees. This funding will serve infant/toddler populations up to age 3.

“The grant is welcome news because it becomes base funding for early Head Start, and Pennsylvania will receive that amount annually,” said Blair Hyatt, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Head Start Association. “But, if pre-k continues to be underfunded in Pennsylvania it means that once these children turn three it is very likely they will not move on to a high-quality pre-k classroom, which would be an enormous loss for them developmentally. In order for these children to continue growing in their healthy development, we need the legislature to invest in pre-k for all 3-and 4-year-olds.”

Pre-K for PA is a nonpartisan issue campaign supported by individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe 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. Campaign supporters are urging Democratic Gov.-elect Wolf and the Republican-led General Assembly to work together to enact a multi-year plan to accomplish this vision.

Editor’s Note: The following programs would have benefitted under the Federal Expansion Grants:

  • Big Beaver Falls Area School District
  • Erie City School District
  • School District of Lancaster
  • Delaware County Intermediate Unit #25
  • Bradford Tioga Head Start
  • Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3
  • Chester County Intermediate Unit #19
  • ARIN Intermediate Unit #28
  • Seton Hill Child Services, Inc.
  • School District of Philadelphia
  • Berks Community Action Program
  • Community Action Program of Mercer County
  • Greater Nanticoke Area School District
  • Community Services for Children
  • Pittsburgh Board of Education
  • Cen-Clear, Inc.
  • Pottstown Area School District
  • Child Development, Inc.
  • Keystone Human Service, aka Capital Area Head Start
  • STEP, Inc. aka Lycoming-Clinton Head Start
  • Erie City School District
  • Pocono Service for Families and Children
  • School District of the City of York
  • McKeesport Area School District
  • Kings College
  • Wilkinsburg Borough School District
  • PIC of Fayette & Westmoreland Counties
  • Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries
  • Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit #13
  • Chester-Upland School District
  • Pathone Inc.
  • Scranton Lackawanna Human Development

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