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House Bill Shortchanges PA Kids, Education Advocates Say

In Pennsylvania, 64 percent of children who are eligible for publicly funded Pre-K are not being served. (Chris Morgan/Flickr)
In Pennsylvania, 64 percent of children who are eligible for publicly funded Pre-K are not being served. (Chris Morgan/Flickr)
April 6, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A budget bill passed by the state House of Representatives on Tuesday falls far short of adequately funding Pre-K and child care, according to early learning advocates.

In his budget proposal, Gov. Tom Wolf calls for a $75 million increase in funding for high quality Pre-K.

But according to Jodi Askins, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children and principal partner of Pre-K for PA,
House Bill 218 would increase that funding by only $25 million.

"And in child care, the House actually cut about $28 million from what the current appropriations are, and the governor had proposed an increase," she points out.

Wolf had proposed a $35 million increase in child care funding.

Askins says the governor's proposed expansion of Pre-K would serve more than 8,400 children who are qualified for state funded Pre-K but aren't getting it.

"Obviously, that is still a far cry from the 113,000 children that are still in need of access, but at least it is a significant step forward," she states.

The Pre-K for PA campaign is calling for a state investment of about $400 million in Pre-K over the next three to four years.

Askins points out that every dollar invested in high quality Pre-K produces up to $17 in long term savings and benefits, beginning with greater success in school.

"We see increased success in high school graduation, decrease in remediation and juvenile delinquency, and higher rates of individuals who graduate from high school that also then go on to college," she states.

Pre-K for PA is asking the legislature to include Wolf's proposed increases for Pre-K and child care in the final budget.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA