July 22, 2024 5:18 am
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PA pre-K advocates back governor’s funding boost to expand access

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Danielle Smith, Public News Service

Recent data on pre-K education in Pennsylvania revealed much work remains to improve investments in pre-K education in the state.

In Pennsylvania, about 54% of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds, or about 78,000 kids, do not have access to pre-K. The Pre-K for PA campaign is asking lawmakers to boost funding in the fiscal budget as the June 30 deadline approaches.

Kari King, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said they support Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposed $33 million increase for pre-K, which would strengthen the sector and expand access to high-quality programs.

“The funds would aim to increase rates for providers,” King explained. “Pre-K is an area where, like many other sectors, there’s a workforce shortage. And so the funds in the state budget will really go to those programs and an effort to make sure that they’re sustainable, and they have their doors open to serve kids with high-quality pre-K.”

The Pre-K for PA campaign also asked the General Assembly to approve a proposed investment of $2.7 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program to increase the per-child rate and examine it to equal the pre-K Counts rate increase.

King emphasized only 46% of eligible 3- to 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-K, while more than 145,000 qualify. She noted several academic studies show high-quality pre-K affects children as they progress through their school-age years into adulthood.

“The positive impacts range from again, on the school side, improved reading and math scores, just school readiness as they enter kindergarten and kind of the social side,” King outlined. “An awareness of following rules and raising their hands.”

King pointed out the Pre-K for PA campaign consistently reinforces the Keystone State has made great strides with state support. More than $250 million in state funds have supported pre-K and Pennsylvania in the past two years but she argued there is always more the state can do.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.