Ten advocacy groups across the state are making a push for more pre-K funding in Pennsylvania. This new coalition is seeking to use this year’s gubernatorial race as an opportunity to campaign for high-quality pre-K care for every family.
The coalition includes Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia (ELGP), Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
Shawn Towey, child care policy coordinator at PCCY, said polls they’ve conducted indicate bipartisan support for increased funding for higher quality and more pre-K programs. She said investing in children early benefits everyone.
“Kids who get high quality pre-K are more likely to do well in school, to graduate, they make more money after they graduate, [and] they’re less likely to get involved with the law.”
Studies indicate a return on investment of up to $16 for every dollar spent on pre-K, Towey said. She added that less money has to be spent on early special education and criminal justice costs are lower.
Jon Herrmann, who directs the Pre-K for PA campaign in Southeast Pennsylvania, said in an email that the campaign has conducted public meetings around the Philadelphia area as well as secured television, radio, and print coverage statewide to support their efforts.
The coalition is slated to release a report in mid-April that will discuss models for pre-K funding from other states and propose ideas for a new pre-K funding plan.
The ELGP is currently looking at a model that prioritizes children who are at the greatest risk of failing, such as low-income students, students with delays and disabilities, or English language learners. Under this model, families would pay for child care on a sliding scale based on their income. Another model being considered would give every child, regardless of circumstance, free pre-K care.
The coalition wants all pre-K programs to be high-quality based on the Office of Child Development and Early Learning’s Keystone Stars system. Programs receive a one- to four-star quality rating, with three and four stars marking high-quality programs.
“We know that kids, families, schools and school districts do better [with high quality pre-K]. And ultimately the state does better,” Towey said. “It’s a win-win.” For more information, go to www.prekforpa.org.