A Path Forward: Publicly Funded, High-Quality Pre-K in Pennsylvania

Posted by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children on December 19, 2016

A Path Forward: Publicly Funded, High-Quality Pre-K in Pennsylvania

Pre-K in Pennsylvania

Access to high-quality pre-kindergarten is a fundamental building block of our state’s education system and helps ensure children have the strong foundation necessary to enter kindergarten ready to learn. Decades of research studies demonstrate the positive impact of attending high quality pre-k for all kids, but evidence points to children living in lower-income families reaping the greatest benefits. Every dollar invested in high-quality pre-k returns up to $17 in long-term savings and benefits.1

High-quality pre-k reduces grade repetition and special education placements in later grades, saving our schools money.2 Children who benefit from high-quality pre-k are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to graduate and attend college, boosting their employment opportunities and earning power while reducing social services costs.3 High-quality pre-k can mitigate disruptive and problem behaviors in early years that, if left unaddressed, can lead to anti-social or even criminal behavior in later years. This not only improves our collective quality of life; it also reduces costs in the criminal justice system.4

Pennsylvania’s support for high-quality pre-kindergarten gained a foothold in the early 2000s with Governor Schweiker’s Early Care and Education Task Force. Under Governor Rendell’s leadership, the commonwealth enacted both the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program and the Accountability Block Grant in 2003 and Pre-K Counts in 2007. Governor Corbett continued to advance small program growth immediately following the recession. Most recently, Governor Wolf proposed the largest funding expansion in the programs’ history and a sizeable increase was realized in both 2015 and 2016. Driven by bi-partisan support, including both Democrat and Republican budget negotiators, pre-k growth was placed as a top state funding priority.


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