Early Childhood Action Day 2011 is sponsored by PennAEYC (the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children) with support from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, the Pennsylvania Child Care Association, Fight Crime Invest in Kids, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, the United Way of Pennsylvania and local AEYC affiliate chapters (Delaware Valley, Pittsburgh Area, York Area, Central Susquehanna, Central Region, Capital Area, Monroe County, NE Penn, NW Penn, Lehigh and Northampton, Lancaster Area, Lebanon Valley, Bucks County and Eastern Penn).
Nearly 675 early childhood education advocates from across the state converged in the Capitol Rotunda today for Early Childhood Action Day 2011 and to meet with legislators about the importance of continued investments in early learning programs.
Those in attendance came to stand in support of early childhood investments including Pre-K Counts, Head Start, Keystone STARS and child care subsidy and to thank Gov. Tom Corbett and his administration for championing these programs. While advocates sent a message that early childhood education investments appear to be protected for now in the governor’s 2011-12 budget request, there is more work to be done to ensure all children have access to quality learning programs that create a solid foundation:
Only 3.5 percent of child care slots for children birth to 4 years old are in the highest quality programs - achieving Keystone STARS four rating or other accreditation.
Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley kicked off the rally by speaking about why investing in early childhood education is so important to the Commonwealth. “Pennsylvania faces tough choices as we rise to the challenge of a $4 billion budget deficit. But Governor Corbett and I understand the importance of investing in early childhood and so this budget maintains support for critical developmental programs,” Cawley said, noting the budget includes nearly $38 million for Head Start and more than $83 million for Pre-K Counts.
Other speakers included Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Rep. Phyllis Mundy (D-Luzerne), co-chairs of the Early Childhood Education Caucus, a nearly 90 member, bi-cameral, bi-partisan group; Lloyd Lamm, First National Bank of Pennsylvania; Jane Ervin, president of Community Services for Children, Allentown, and concerned parents.
“As a member of the Early Childhood Education Caucus, I am committed to protecting and preserving state support for the vital early childhood education programs that give young people the opportunity to succeed in school and later in life,” said Sen. Pat Browne. “Now more than ever we need to ensure these children receive the proper tools to succeed. Over the past few years it has become clear that businesses, business leaders, and law enforcement officials in the Commonwealth understand the importance of becoming shareholders and supporters of early childhood education programs.
“I applaud the advocates here today for voicing their support for early childhood care and education programs. These advocates understand that high-quality early childhood programs are a smart investment - one that, over time, pays for itself and then goes on to generate billions of dollars in savings and revenue for government budgets, increased earnings to participants’ families, and reduced costs to crime victims,” said Rep. Phyllis Mundy. “I will do all in my power to ensure that funding for our state’s early childhood education programs is restored, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”
Bringing a business perspective to the event was Lloyd Lamm, president of the Harrisburg office of First National Bank of PA.“Investments in early learning will boost Pennsylvania’s economy today, create jobs, and ensure that Pennsylvania’s businesses will have a workforce with the 21st century skills needed in today’s world,” Lamm told the crowd. His words echoed a recent report by America’s Edge which showed that $1 invested in early care and education in Pennsylvania generates nearly $2 for local economies.
“I believe if we invest in children and their education, we invest in the future,” said Jane Ervin, CEO and President, Community Services for Children, Allentown. “I urge our legislators to put children first by protecting the investment in early learning. Early childhood education saves taxpayers money in the long run in educational remediation, welfare, criminal justice, and other public spending.”
"Education is a collaborative effort. And as a working parent, I feel confident that both the child care center and I worked together to cultivate my children's learning and development,” said Nicole Coleman, a mother of three from Pittsburgh. “The staff in a quality child care facility works together with parents to lay a strong foundation for our children, and for their future.”
More information on Early Childhood Action Day is available by contacting Kathy Geller Myers, PA Partnerships for Children, at 717-236-5680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.