Senator Browne participates in an Early Childhood Action Day Rally in support of early learning investment

Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne and Representative Phyllis Mundy, co-chairs of the Early Childhood Education Caucus, joined early learning teachers, business leaders, parents and advocates for a rally in support of state investments in high-quality, early learning programs, including a $10 million increase in funding for the Pennsylvania Pre-K-Counts program that was part of Governor Tom Corbett’s 2014-15 budget proposal.

“This increased state support for these vital programs is strongly supported by the Early Childhood Education Caucus and something we have been advocating for with other early learning proponents,” Senator Browne said. “These worthy investments will continue to pay huge dividends to Pennsylvania communities and our state’s overall economic well-being, while lessening the burden on taxpayers.”

The rally was part of Early Childhood Action Day, an annual event to raise awareness regarding the need for strong investments in early childhood education.

“The governor’s proposal is a good step,” said Cynthia Battle of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education for Young Children, which hosted today’s rally. “We know, however, that Pennsylvania is falling behind other states in providing high-quality early learning programs. More action and funding are needed to reduce the large unmet need and continue building a high-quality early learning system in Pennsylvania.”

Pre-K Counts provides research-based, high-quality pre-kindergarten opportunities to at-risk children across the commonwealth by leveraging existing early education services in school districts, Keystone STARS childcare programs, Head Start and licensed nursery schools.

“These programs have a proven track record of success and have demonstrated that children who participate in early education programs are better equipped to maximize their primary and secondary education experience,” Senator Browne said. “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 our highly-skilled and competitive workforce. I am proud of the support and the priority Pennsylvania has placed on funding these programs.”

Many scientific and well-recognized studies show that investments in early childhood education programs, especially for at-risk children, earn seven to 16 dollars for every dollar invested.

“Research is clear that high-quality programs generate the most positive impact on children,” said Mary Ann Delvin, executive director of Child Development, Inc., which operates early learning classrooms in Schuylkill County. “State funding is critical to providing high-quality, early learning environments to our youngest children regardless of family income.”

The rally also served as the formal launch of Early Learning PA, a new non-partisan campaign focused on increasing early learning opportunities in Pennsylvania. The Early Learning PA campaign is working to ensure Pennsylvania has a comprehensive early childhood education system that provides all of the commonwealth’s children, particularly its most vulnerable, with access to the resources and support they need to enter school ready to learn.

Organizers of the Early Childhood Action Day and principal partners in the Early Learning PA campaign include: Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; Fight Crime: Invest In Kids; Mission: Readiness – Military Leaders For Kids; Pennsylvania Association for the Education Of Young Children; Pennsylvania Child Care Association; Pennsylvania Head Start Association; Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; and Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

The bi-partisan, bi-cameral Early Childhood Education Caucus – the largest legislative caucus in Pennsylvania with over 129 members – was created in 2010 to support high-quality early childhood care and education programs in Pennsylvania that promote health and educational development for our at-risk children.

Earlier this year, Senator Browne and Rep. Mundy introduced resolutions designating April 2014 as the “Month of the Young Child” and recognized that every Pennsylvania child deserves access to high-quality, early learning opportunities.

Contact:

Vicki Wilken (717) 787-1349
Matt Moyer  (610) 366-2327