Budget proposal includes substantial investments in early learning, K-12 education and efforts to support strong parenting.
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso said the 2018-19 state budget proposal Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled today demonstrates strong support for investments that will benefit the commonwealth’s 2.8 million children.
“The governor begins the budget season with a proposal that puts kids front and center by proposing increased investments in programs that work. We look forward to working with legislators from all four caucuses to pass a budget that prioritizes the needs of children and families,” said Benso.
The budget proposes an increase of $40 million in funding for the state’s Pre-K Counts program and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program to serve an additional 4,400 children.
“More than 106,200 eligible children qualify for high-quality, publicly funded pre-k but remain unserved,” Benso said.
The governor also proposed a $23 million increase in child care funding including $10 million reduce the Child Care Works waiting list by 1,600 children and $10 million to increase tiered reimbursement for Keystone STAR 2, 3, and 4 providers. In addition, $3 million is slotted for an infant/toddler child care pilot program to improve quality.
An increase of $6.5 million is slated for home visiting initiatives, including training for child welfare, treatment and home visiting staff, and a long-overdue COLA for programs. The proposal also would build on the state’s past investment and expand resources to help 800 families suffering from the ravages of the opioid crisis to improve their capacity to raise their young children.
“Evidence-based home visiting programs provide wonderful support to mothers and families,” Benso noted.
Also included in the governor’s proposal is an increase of $100 million for basic education funding, which would be driven out through the state’s fair funding formula that increases the state’s fair share of providing basic education services to students.
“One of the most important roles state government plays is to support an adequate and equitable public school funding system. The state has made great gains in recent years but still has a long way to go,” said Benso. “The governor’s proposal to increase funding for basic, special and career and technical education is an important step in the right direction.
The budget also includes a special education funding increase of $20 million and a $10 million increase to the career and technical education line item in addition to other workforce development initiatives.
“PPC appreciates the governor’s commitment to improving the quality of life for children and families in Pennsylvania. For the past 25 years our organization has worked with governors and legislators from both sides of the aisle to advance policies that help our children thrive and become productive adults, and this year will be no exception,” Benso said.??