(Harrisburg) -- An advocacy group that studies areas affecting education says the state is holding its ground, but not improving.
The 2012 "School Readiness Report" from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children finds the number of children in low-income households is holding steady at about 20 percent.
It also shows about five percent of children in the commonwealth lack health insurance.
Spokesman Michael Race says taken together, those factors can hamper development.
"If you are in poverty you have your own unique set of circumstances you have to overcome," Race says. "If you lack health insurance and access to preventive care, things like vaccinations and preventive medicine that helps detect problems in the earliest years, that again can put a child at a tremendous disadvantage."
Race says the flatline in improvement is partially a reflection of the state budget and difficult economic times.
He says some positive signs in the new report include more children receiving early intervention services and getting high-quality child care.
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