Longietti, state leaders highlight importance of ‘building’ high-quality child care in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, June 19 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, and state Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, co-chairs of the 140-member Early Childhood Education Caucus, today joined Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera at the Capitol to welcome children from Hansel and Gretel, a high-quality Keystone 4 child care center, to commemorate Early Childhood Action Day.

Longietti, Rivera and other legislators participated in a block tower building competition to highlight the importance of continued state investments in high-quality child care.

As part of the event, advocates distributed a recent poll of 602 Pennsylvania residents conducted by Magellan Strategies that demonstrated strong support for funding high-quality child care. Key findings from the poll show:

  • Seventy-seven percent support and 55 percent strongly support increased funding for high-quality child care programs.
  • Seventy-seven percent believe high-quality child care is very expensive and 82 percent believe the government needs to do more to make programs affordable for families.

“We know that investing in our children early, when the infrastructure of their brains is being formed, is the best first step we can take to promote their lifelong success,” Longietti said. “We have to make sure these types of investments reach our most vulnerable populations, and that can only be accomplished by funding programs like Pre-K, child care, home visiting, and early intervention at a level that eliminates waitlists and ensures high quality.”

Browne added: “I am proud of the priority Pennsylvania has and continues to place on funding programs that give at-risk young people the opportunity to succeed in school and later in life. Programs such as these have demonstrated that students who receive early assistance have an increased likelihood of graduating from high school and becoming productive and successful members of our highly skilled competitive workforce.”

Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year proposed significant increases to early care and education programs, including $27 million to serve 1,600 children on the child care waiting list. It also includes $40 million for Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program to serve 4,400 more children in high-quality Pre-K, and increases funding for evidence-based home visiting and early intervention services.

“Participation in high-quality child care and early learning programs, where children have access to caring professionals and exposure to curiosity-building activities, can help them get a good start years before they begin school,” Rivera said. “Expanding opportunities for children to participate in high-quality programs is an investment in our youngest learners and an investment in our commonwealth’s future.”

Additional Early Childhood Action Day events were featured in Philadelphia and via social media. To follow the Action Day efforts, see Facebook: ChildCareWorksPA; Twitter: @pachildcare; and Instagram: ChildCareWorksPA

Organizers of Early Childhood Action Day include the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC), First Up: Champions for Early Education (formerly DVAEYC), Mission: Readiness, Pennsylvania Child Care Association, and Trying Together.