Early Childhood Education Caucus will work to preserve programs
State Senator Pat Browne (R-16) and Representative Phyllis Mundy (D-120) today (March 2nd) reaffirmed their commitment to preserving essential programs that give many Pennsylvania children an extra boost that helps them succeed in school and later in life.
As co-chairs of the bi-partisan, bi-cameral Early Childhood Education Caucus, Senator Browne and Representative Mundy said they will endeavor to protect and preserve state support for these programs in the face of substantial cuts expected across the board in the upcoming state budget.
Speaking at a press conference in the State Capitol, the Legislators said they expect all education programs in Pennsylvania will be intensely scrutinized by the Administration and the Legislature as they work to close a $4 billion dollar structural deficit in Pennsylvania’s state budget in developing a spending plan for the next fiscal year.
“Despite difficult fiscal challenges, the Commonwealth must continue to commit itself to initiatives which are crucial to Pennsylvania’s future growth and prosperity,” Senator Browne said. “I strongly support quality early childhood education and I plan to work strenuously and aggressively with my colleagues to protect programs that promote health and educational development for our at-risk children. Early childhood education is a worthy investment which will continue to pay huge dividends to Pennsylvania communities and our state’s overall economic well being.”
Representative Mundy said, “Many studies have shown that investing in quality early childhood education is the wise thing to do, as it helps more of our children perform at grade level, graduate from high school, succeed in college, and earn more as adults. Over the long-term, investing in early childhood programs generates anywhere between seven to sixteen dollars for every dollar invested. We must not take Pennsylvania back to the days when we were falling behind other states in recognizing these facts. Job creation means nothing if we don’t have well-educated and qualified workers to fill those jobs.”
The legislators were joined at the press conference by Joan Benso, President and CEO of PA Partnerships for Children, Philip Peterson, Co-Chair of the Early Learning Investment Commission, Allentown Police Chief Roger MacLean, and Lauren DeBord, a parent of a child enrolled in an early childhood education program.
“Every day in Pennsylvania, thousands of children in the earliest years of their lives benefit from early learning that will have a profound impact on their educational opportunities and outcomes,” said Benso.
“But so many others – about 80 percent of three and four year olds – do not have access to publicly-funded pre-kindergarten and more than 12,000 children sit on the waiting list for high-quality child care. We applaud Senator Browne, Representative Mundy and their colleagues for their leadership and commitment to make early childhood investment a priority in the legislative session,” she added.
Two weeks ago, Senator Browne and Representative Mundy appeared at a press conference in the State Capitol where America’s Edge unveiled a new report detailing the economic connections between early childhood education and business growth and development in Pennsylvania.
The report showed that investment in quality early care and education will actually generate $1.06 in sales of local goods and services from Pennsylvania businesses for every $1 invested.
The report also indicated that companies in communities with quality early learning available to their employees have less absenteeism and higher retention and productivity, reducing the $3 billion annual cost U.S. businesses incur because their employees have child care arrangement problems.