Early Learning

Early Learning

Brains are the most flexible during the first 5 years of life making this period of development critical for lifelong growth and learning. A child’s brain is built prior to them stepping foot into a formal learning environment. Regular positive interactions with consistent caregivers at home or through high-quality early learning opportunities that stimulate all areas of child development are essential to set the groundwork for long-term success in life.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children knows that waiting until kindergarten is too late and that children who receive high-quality early learning experiences demonstrate greater cognitive and social-emotional growth than children who do not have these opportunities. PPC’s work in early learning focuses on high-quality early childhood opportunities designed to ensure children enter school ready to succeed.

Early Learning Policy Goals

  • Increase funds for publicly funded, high-quality pre-k.
    • Increase funds for publicly funded, high-quality pre-k, so at least 60 percent of at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds can voluntarily participate.
    • 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.
  • Increase the number of at-risk children in high-quality programs, especially infants and toddlers in Child Care Works.
    • Implement and support a financing strategy that increases the supply of high-quality infant and toddler child care.
    • Take steps to ensure that children enrolled in Child Care Works (CCW) can attend STAR 3 and 4 programs regardless of where they live and when their parents work.
    • Support efforts to reimburse child care providers, including tiered reimbursement, at the full cost of quality care, ensuring Pennsylvania’s full compliance with CCDBG “access to care” provisions.
    • 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 care providers for at-risk children in the subsidized child care program. Create program parameters that time-limit provider participation at STAR 1 or 2 if payment and ensure that technical assistance is appropriately provided.
  • Monitor investments and policies that support the inclusion of children with developmental delays and disabilities in high-quality early learning programs and provide ongoing supports to parents and providers.
    • Support adequate investments to identify and provide 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.
    • Maximize all state and federal funding for Early Intervention.
  • Promote comprehensive pre-k to K-12 transition policies that emphasize kindergarten readiness and foster relationships between families, teachers, and community partners.
    • Support efforts for professional development of staff in engaging families and learning about student needs as they transition to kindergarten.
    • Explore opportunities to facilitate pre-k-3 professional development focused on improved instructional strategies that provide meaningful outcomes for parents and establish the literacy and mathematical foundations needed to succeed at the next grade level.
    • 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.
  • Ensure the effective operations of Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) programs.
    • Support the effective implementation, use, and reporting of OCDEL data systems and their coordination with other child and family service data systems.
    • Work with and advocate for OCDEL to obtain available and needed infant and toddler related data.
    • Support coordination of services of the newly funded Early Learning Resource Centers (ELRCs). These regional centers were created to provide a single point of contact for families, early learning service providers, and communities to gain information and access services that support high-quality child care and early learning programs.

Early Learning Publications

Click here to browse

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.

Be a Voice for Kids
Stay up-to-date about our public policy work in this and other areas by signing up to receive our biweekly e-newsletter, “A Voice for Kids.”

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!

Fast Facts about Early Learning in PA

  • In 2019 Dr. James Heckman, the Nobel-prize winning author of the landmark Perry Preschool research project in the 1960s in Tennessee, revealed longitudinal study results that the benefits of pre-k for low-income children are sustained over time and substantiate high-quality pre-k as a mechanism which can help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

  • Ninety six percent of surveyed kindergarten teachers agree that students who attend a high-quality pre-k program are ready for success in kindergarten.

  • Approximately 56% of Pennsylvania’s eligible 3- and 4-year-olds do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-kindergarten.

  • Currently, only 37% of Child Care Works (CCW) children under five years are in high-quality programs and only 34% of CCW infants and toddlers are in high-quality programs.