Senator Browne and Early Childhood Education Caucus hold a press conference on adequately funding early education programs

The Early Childhood Education Caucus was joined Tuesday (May 6) by representatives from the business and law enforcement communities, and military leaders, as well as early learning advocates, to explain why the state must adequately fund early childhood education programs.

“Programs such as Pre-K Counts, Head Start and Keystone Stars 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,” said Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne, co-chair of the bicameral, bipartisan caucus. “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 and I hope, as we begin budget discussions, that we continue to provide the necessary resources that afford at-risk young people the opportunity to succeed in school and later in life.”

“It seems that it was not until business leaders, law enforcement and military officials became involved in the discussion that we began to make really significant headway in getting policymakers to boost state support for these programs,” said state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, co-chair of the caucus. “These pioneers have seen first-hand that investments in high-quality early learning programs reap countless short-term and long-term benefits that affect all Pennsylvanians.”

By investing in early childhood education now, the commonwealth will reap benefits later.

“We know from years of solid research that quality early learning programs are a smart investment for Pennsylvania,” said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. “They prepare children to succeed in school and life, save the commonwealth and taxpayers money by reducing the need for costlier school and social services later on, and help boost our economy. Yet with each passing year, too many of our young learners miss out on the undisputed benefits of high-quality early learning because we aren’t doing enough to make it available.”

“We can continue with the status quo, which is leading too many people to failure in school, involvement in crime and incarceration — at a huge cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers,” added Bruce R. Clash, Pennsylvania state director, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. “Or we can take a different course by investing more in high-quality pre-kindergarten programs — leading to more success in school, increased high school graduation rates, safer communities and savings to taxpayers for years to come.”

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Pennsylvania is comprised of more than 200 law enforcement officials who advocate for public investments shown to keep kids from becoming criminals.

Retired Rear Adm. Thomas Wilson, U.S. Navy, said increased funding for early childhood education programs would help national security.

“Highly trained personnel are central to the operation of our sophisticated defense systems,” said Wilson, a member of Mission: Readiness, a national security non-profit that works to reverse the high percentage of American youth who are ineligible for military service. “High-quality early education is a proven investment that boosts high school graduation rates and helps ensure that young Americans have the educational background needed for military service if they choose to serve.”

Jodi Askins, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children and co-chair of the Early Learning PA Campaign said all children should have access to early learning programs to help prepare them for life.

“That is the founding principal of the new Early Learning PA Campaign, which boasts a diverse coalition committed to advocating for greater access to Pennsylvania’s comprehensive early childhood system,” Askins said.

Early Learning PA is a statewide collaboration of the following organizations: 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 Head Start Association, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, and Pennsylvania Child Care Association.

The Early Learning PA campaign is a statewide, non-partisan campaign supported by a broad-based coalition from around the commonwealth committed to advocating for a comprehensive early childhood system that ensures that Pennsylvania’s children, particularly its most vulnerable, have access to the education and support they need to enter school ready to learn.

Contact:          Matt Moyer (610) 366-2327