Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne joined over a dozen of his colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives and four Pennsylvania families at a press conference in Harrisburg on October 16th to tout the importance of early childhood education.
The press conference, part of “Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children” month, focused on the success of early intervention programs and allowed families to tell how quality early learning has impacted their children’s preparation for school and success in life.
“I am pleased to join my colleagues in Harrisburg and early childhood education advocates across Pennsylvania in recognizing October 2013 as ‘Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children’ month,” Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) said. “As Co-Chair of the bi-cameral, bi-partisan Early Childhood Education Caucus, I am proud of the priority Pennsylvania has shown in funding programs that give at-risk young people the opportunity to succeed in school and later in life.”
Early Childhood Education programs have been proven to pay dividends immediately and in the long-run. Young people who fall behind in school are more likely to drop out and are less likely to become productive and successful members of their communities and of the highly-skilled and competitive workforce.
For every $1 invested in quality early education today, it saves at least $7 in future special education, public assistance and corrections costs, not to mention loss of state revenues.
“It is common sense that when children with developmental delays participate in early education programs, they are better equipped to maximize their primary and secondary education experience,” Senator Browne said. “Programs from Pre-K Counts to Head Start to Keystone STARS have all demonstrated that students who receive early assistance have an increased likelihood of graduating from high school and becoming productive and successful members of our highly-skilled competitive workforce.”
Kurt Kondrich, parent co-chair of the State Interagency Coordinating Council, opened the event with some reflections of his daughter Chloe, age 10. Chloe was born with Down Syndrome and, thanks to Early Intervention and early childhood education, attends 5th grade at her neighborhood middle school and reads at a 5th grade level.
“As a police officer, I learned that you either invest in kids early or you warehouse them later,” Kondrich said.
Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children Month is an opportunity to celebrate quality early education and the families, teachers and leaders who help our young children reach their promise every day.
Clara and Curtis Buie, who came to the press conference from Easton, shared their experiences with their three children who participate in early education programs.
“It has been an amazing experience having all three of our children in the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program,” Clara Buie said. “We’ve seen them grow and develop and now we have a kindergartner who we know is going to be very successful because of our hard work at home, but also because of the foundation that Pre-K Counts has provided our children.”
Curtis Buie added, “The success is really shown on the faces of our children when they come home from school. They can’t stop talking about what they’ve learned. That is a testament to the job that is done at Pre-K Counts. I want to thank the legislators for fighting for these programs.”
The 125-member Early Childhood Education Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral alliance of legislators who advocate for the continued funding and development of high-quality early childhood care and education programs in Pennsylvania.