Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education

Ensure each child in Pennsylvania has the opportunity for affordable and accessible high-quality early childhood education, including infant and toddler child care, as well as pre-kindergarten education. The rapid brain growth during the first few years of life underscores the need to build an early, solid foundation for future success in school, relationships, and life. A coordinated care system is also a vital component of the economy, allowing parents to work while knowing their children are receiving high-quality care.

Early Childhood Education Policy Goals

  • Increase the number of children enrolled in publicly funded, high-quality pre-k.
    1. Increase investments for publicly funded, high-quality pre-k so at least 60 percent of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds can voluntarily participate.
    2. Ensure an adequate supply of high-quality pre-k providers are eligible for participation in publicly funded programs and preserve the mixed pre-k service delivery system.
    3. Ensure the availability of a high-quality workforce by reinforcing the need for a pre-k through 4th grade teaching certification.
  • Increase the number of Child Care Works eligible children, specifically infants and toddlers, in high-quality child care programs.
    1. Provide financial support and technical assistance to STAR 1 and 2 providers to move up the STAR ladder, creating a more financially stable and larger pool of high-quality providers for eligible children in the subsidized child care program.
    2. Develop a concept of simplifying subsidy payment rates and establishing a base rate which includes the quality level of child care programs.
    3. Increase base rates for child care providers, coupled with increasing contracted slots to provide for a more stable payment method of high-quality infant and toddler care and allow more infants and toddlers to be served in high-quality.
    4. Support the early childhood care and education infrastructure to ensure the system remains whole in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency, including further coordination of services available through the Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs).
  • Investigate policies that support children with developmental delays and disabilities through early intervention programs, while also providing ongoing supports to parents and providers.
    1. Research a policy framework that focuses on providing necessary services to all young children eligible for early intervention services. Preserve eligibility and high-quality implementation standards for children in the Early Intervention Program.
    2. Maximize all state and federal funding for Early Intervention.
    3. Ensure equitable access to early intervention services for all children.
    4. Continue to monitor Pennsylvania’s progress at conducting developmental screens at recommended intervals and conducting follow-up assessment and care coordination for children identified as having possible delays.
    5. Ensure the continued alignment of academic and social-emotional learning goals found in the Pennsylvania’s Learning Standards for Early Childhood with the expectations of decreasing suspension and expulsion in the early learning years.

Early Learning Publications

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Pre-K for PA 

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a principal partner of the Pre-K for PA campaign. Building on the shared belief that all children should have the opportunity to enter school ready to succeed, a broad coalition of organizations launched the Pre-K for PA campaign in 2014. The campaign makes pre-k a priority issue in the gubernatorial and legislative elections, advocating increased access to high-quality pre-kindergarten for all of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year olds.

To learn more, visit: prekforpa.org.

Start Strong PA

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a partner in the Start Strong PA campaign, which aims to support healthy child development, working families and the economy by increasing access to and affordability of high-quality child care programs for young children.

To learn more, visit: startstrongpa.org.

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Fast Facts about Early Learning in PA

  • Nearly 106,000 of Pennsylvania’s eligible 3- and 4-year-olds do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-kindergarten.
  • 71 percent of Pennsylvania children under the age of six had all adults in their household in the workforce.
  • More than 45,000 infants and toddlers and nearly 58,000 preschool children benefit from early intervention services.
  • From March 2020 through Labor Day 2020, the minimum financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to child care programs was $325 million statewide.