Bizzarro: Grants will expand early education opportunities for at-risk kids

HARRISBURG, July 12 – Newly awarded grants will expand early education opportunities for Erie County’s at-risk children, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, announced today. The grants to nine school districts and other organizations in the county will fund slots in the state’s Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs.

“It’s hard to overstate just how important early education programs are for at-risk kids,” Bizzarro said. “Studies show that kids who attend public preschool programs are far better prepared for kindergarten, and poor, disadvantaged kids often show the greatest gains.”

The list of Erie County Pre-K Counts recipients includes:

  • Millcreek Township School District

  • Benedictine Sisters of Erie

  • Corry Area School District

  • Dr Gertrude A Barber Center

  • Early Connections, Inc.

  • Greater Erie Community Action Committee

  • YMCA of Greater Erie

  • Edinboro University of PA

  • Erie City School District

In addition, the Greater Erie Community Action Committee will receive a grant to fund slots in the state’s Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, which provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition and other services.

Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts provides free, high-quality pre-K services to at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds. Children in families earning up to 300 percent of poverty, or a family of four earning $75,300 annually, are eligible to apply. Head Start is available to families at or below 130 percent of poverty, or a family of four earning $32,630 annually.

Statewide, about 2,125 new slots in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and 490 new slots in Head Start are being made available.

Bizzarro said the investment will yield lasting results.

“What these programs are doing is giving kids the right start,” he said. “They’re giving them the foundations that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”