Pre-K Students Join Governor Shapiro and Lieutenant Governor Davis at Tree-Lighting Ceremony

Adorn PA Capitol Christmas Tree with Hand-crafted Ornaments

HARRISBURG (December 5, 2023) The Pre-K for PA campaign joined Governor Shapiro and Lieutenant Governor Davis at the Pennsylvania Capitol tree lighting ceremony to mark the official start of the holiday season today. The 20-foot Douglas Fir Christmas tree from Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Lehighton, Carbon County, was decorated by pre-k students from all corners of the commonwealth who crafted hundreds of original ornaments.

Joining Governor Shapiro for the tree lighting ceremony was staff, students, and families from Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County – Millersville University Thrive to Five Classroom and Pre-K for PA supporting organizations.

“Every year, our holiday wish is for lawmakers to make serious investments in early care and education for Pennsylvania’s children and families,” said Jen DeBell, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC), a principal partner of Pre-K for PA. “Each and every child deserves the opportunity to begin their educational journey on the right foot. High-quality, publicly funded pre-k is an essential component of the early care and education continuum. Child care is also needed so families can work, with an estimated 68% of young children in Pennsylvania having all available caregivers in the workforce. Pennsylvania’s children and their families deserve access to high-quality child care and pre-k.”

Today, only 43 percent of eligible children in Pennsylvania have access to high-quality pre-k. Yet, a February 2023 Susquehanna Polling and Research poll showed that 98% of PA voters believe that early learning is important, and 78% of PA voters support increasing state funding to serve more eligible children in pre-k programs, which was an increase from 65% in 2022.

Additionally, a study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill confirmed that the Commonwealth’s investment in pre-k is paying dividends for the children fortunate enough to access pre-k through Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts program. In language and math skills, the study showed that these kids outperformed their kindergarten peers who did not enjoy access – an advantage that equated to four to five months of learning gains, which is a substantial difference in development at that age.


Pre-K for PA is an issue campaign supported by individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe that investing in our children is the right choice and an urgent necessity. Our vision is that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. For more information