Research shows children who attended high-quality pre-k are more likely to read proficiently in third grade, graduate from high school, attend post-secondary education and become successful in the workplace. Additionally, investments in high-quality pre-k have a high return on investment, leading to savings in K-12 resulting from reductions in the need for special education and grade repetition as well as savings in criminal justice involvement and incarceration. A recent analysis on pre-k investments shows every dollar invested in high-quality pre-k returns at least $4 in savings and benefits. Despite these savings and benefits to the state, approximately 113,000 eligible three-and-four-year-olds lack access to publicly funded high-quality pre-k this year in the commonwealth. To learn more about the state of pre-k throughout the commonwealth and how Pennsylvania compares to other states, please refer to the Pre-K for PA site and these numerous reports highlighting pre-k benefits.
(1) As Governor, what would you do to make sure all of Pennsylvania’s at-risk 3- and 4- year olds have access to high quality pre-k and Head Start programs? What are your plans to secure the resources needed, and what is your timeline to achieve your goals for pre-k access?
Students who participate in high quality out-of-school time programs have better grades and conduct in school, more academic enrichment opportunities, improved emotional adjustment and fewer incidences of drug use and pregnancy. Unequal access to summer learning programs accounts for about two-thirds of the overall achievement gap between students from low- and middle-income families. Students from low-income families fall about two months behind their middle-income classmates over the course of the summer, also known as the summer slide. You can learn more about the benefits of out-of-school time programs in this brief here.
(2) What strategies would your administration support or promote to close the achievement gap between low and middle/high income students?
High quality child care programs across the state provide care and education to low income families using government subsidies for which rates have not increased in 10 years. Today only 30 percent of subsidized children are accessing high-quality STAR 3 and 4 care, families are waiting almost 25 days to access subsidies they need to work, 43 percent of child care staff are receiving public assistance and child care subsidy reimbursements do not cover the cost of quality care.
(3) If elected Governor, what would you propose the Commonwealth do to address these issue and ensure high-quality child care programs are available for working Pennsylvanians and their families?