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Report: PA Funding Can Boost Academic Success Starting in Pre-K

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Wednesday, April 13, 2022   

With negotiations for Pennsylvania's budget under way, a new report unpacks the state's investment in early-childhood education. Advocates hope it can sway lawmakers to boost funding in the budget.

Gov. Tom Wolf's final budget proposal includes a $70 million increase in pre-K funding. In the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children report, the Commonwealth ranks 14th for per-capita funding, compared with 26 states with similar pre-K programs.

Despite increased support for pre-K during the pandemic, Kari King, president and chief executive of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, said there's still work to be done because 61% of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds in the state remain unserved.

"When kids have access to high-quality pre-K," she said, "we're really getting them ready for kindergarten, getting them ready for school with the early literacy, early numeracy concepts, to really get them on that path to success throughout the rest of their education and their school years."

Wolf's preschool budget increase would go to Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, which focus on early childhood education for low-income families. The budget must be finalized by June 30.

The report included investment recommendations to improve the quality of Pennsylvania's pre-K programs. King said supporting educators through professional development is one step.

"Recruitment and retention has been a really big issue in this sector, particularly since the pandemic," she said "So, seeing what we can do to support the workforce in gaining those educational credentials - so that the programs can be high quality, because that's really where it does show that children do better."

An analysis of Pennsylvania's pre-K programs by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that children in Pre-K Counts have significantly higher language and math skills than their peers. King said the report will be shared with General Assembly leaders and the Wolf administration.

Disclosure: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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