Early Education Funding Increases Will Help Thousands of Kids

By Ali Ingersoll

Published 07/09 2014 11:22PM

Updated 07/09 2014 11:46PM

Part of Pennsylvania's budget will add $10 million for early learning to help more kids get access to high-quality programs.  That extra money will bring the state's Pre-K Counts funding to $97.3 million.

Early learning providers say this year's budget, is a good budget for them.  The House, Senate and Governor all came together, supporting the funding increases for early learning programs. Educators say, it's not enough though.

"It is a drop in the bucket," says Ann Walker, the Administrative Executive at the Child Development and Family Council of Centre County.  "There are many more three and four-year-olds out there who would benefit from this program to ready them for school."

The extra funding and making more grants available for subsidized care will take thousands of kids statewide off of waiting lists to get into high-quality early learning programs.

"If we invest dollars very early with young children, then w can get to special need issues, developmental delays early," says Walker. "Sometimes we can mitigate them so that they're gone."

Educators, like Wendy Whitesell who has worked in the field in different capacities for years, says those early years are very important. 

"We see a huge arch in development in birth to five," says Whitesell.  "That is where we should be putting our funds."

Whitesell says she is able to tell the children who attended high-quality early learning programs apart from those who haven't.

"Knowing that a child can recite all their numbers and say the alphabet and all those kinds of things, that's great," says Whitesell. "But if I know a child will be able to think about a problem and figure it out if someone posed that problem to them, then I know I've prepared that child."

Both Whitesell and Walker say not only are children more prepared for elementary school after attending high-quality early learning programs but research done by the state also show those children are more likely to stay in school, get jobs and put money back in the local economy.

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