York Dispatch: Editorial: More Pre-k Funds Needed
October 12, 2018

Local advocates for high-quality early education recently celebrated the expansion of pre-K funding that allowed them to accommodate more children and expand programming.

An additional $25 million in funding was added to the state budget this year for early childhood education — $20 million going to PA Pre-K Counts programs and $5 million to Head Start Supplemental.

That’s a good start, but experts say much more is needed to reach all of Pennsylvania’s eligible children.

More than 200 for Pre-K Counts grants were awarded this fiscal year, and one recipient  was the YWCA York, which was able to open a new pre-K classroom for 20 additional students.

That brings the YW’s program, which serves families with incomes up to 300 percent above the poverty level and provides free tuition and subsidies or scholarships for before- or after-school care, up to eight classes for children age 3 to 5.

As supporters rightly point out, high-quality early education is an investment that provides young children the solid start needed to succeed both academically and socially in school.

That increases the likelihood they’ll stay out of trouble, graduate from high school and enroll in college or join the military, leading to better career opportunities.

High-quality pre-K programs also boost local economies by eventually producing the skilled workers new businesses need.

“One of the things you read about Pre-K Counts is it prepares the children to enter the structured format of the school district,” YWCA York CEO Jean Treuthart said earlier this month at a gathering of local pre-K boosters.

“What I love seeing is not that we’re getting them ready for structure but that we’re just lighting the fire of curiosity and discovery,” she added.

Unfortunately, many more children who could benefit from a head start remain in the dark.

Read the full editorial here.