Accessibility of early education programs in PA needs work

Written by Mary Wilson | Nov 29, 2013 12:39 PM

(Harrisburg) -- A recent study shows Pennsylvania has some work to do to prepare young children for school. 

The finding by the advocacy group Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children reveals just under 16 percent of young children have access to public early education in the commonwealth.

Spokesman Mike Race says state funding for early education has been either cut or stagnant for the past few years, leading to declines in the percentage of children in publicly-funded pre-K.

"Now, we’ve got new investments in this current fiscal year in pre-K programs like Head Start and Pre-K Counts," he says, "But, it probably won’t be for another year or two before we start to see those increased investments generate into more kids accessing publicly-funded pre-K."

The 2013 report uses data from a number of federal Census surveys and state agencies.

Race acknowledges it’s possible that the remaining roughly 84 percent of children without access to publicly-funded pre-K are enrolled in some kind of private school.

But he says it doesn’t refute his group’s argument, based on a preponderance of research, that making early education widely accessible reduces education costs in the long term and better prepares children for school and life beyond the classroom.

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