First Lady Frances Wolf Discusses Investments in Early Childhood Education During Roundtable with Pre-K for PA 

April 20, 2022

Today, First Lady Frances Wolf moderated a virtual conversation with Pre-K for PA highlighting the proposed investments in early childhood education in Governor ​Tom Wolf’s 2022-23 budget and the impact they could have on families and the industry. Deputy Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning Tracey Campanini also joined the conversation to provide more details about the budget proposals.  

Mrs. Wolf spoke with pre-k teachers and administrators about how the proposed budget addresses the effects of the pandemic on early childhood education, their workforces needs, and the demand for high quality early childhood education programs.  

“Education has always been a cornerstone of this administration. Over the past seven years, the commonwealth has more than doubled its investment in early childhood education and this year is no different,” said First Lady Wolf. “Providing educational opportunities for our youngest learners is imperative to their development and we remain steadfast in expanding access to as many children and families as we can.”  

From the beginning, the Wolf Administration has prioritized increasing Pennsylvania’s educational opportunities. In the past seven years, Governor Wolf has secured an additional $1.8 billion in funding for pre-k through college.   

“Pre-K for PA applauds Governor Wolf’s unwavering commitment of expanding access to high-quality pre-k,” said Steve Doster, state director of Mission Readiness and Pre-K for PA partner. “The ​Wolf Administration’s proposed $70 million increase as part of the 2022-23 state budget would provide this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to more than 2,300 additional young learners as well as boost provider rates to keep pace with rising labor and other costs associated with quality programs.” 

Understanding that children who participate in high-quality pre-k programs perform better in school, are more likely to graduate, and earn more throughout their lives compared to peers without access to early learning programs, the governor’s 2022-23 budget proposes a $60 million increase in Pre-K Counts funding and $10 million increase in funding for the Head Start Supplemental Program. This new funding will allow more than 2,300 additional children to enroll in the state’s high-quality early learning programs. 

The governor’s 2022-23 budget proposal also includes: 

  • Stabilizing childcare and ensuring equal access for families through $77.7 million in additional federal funds to support increased Child Care Works base rates; $44.3 million to reduce copayments for Child Care Works families; and $6.1 million to incentivize non-traditional childcare to increase access for parents that do not work a traditional schedule. 
  • Increasing access to early intervention (EI) services, which provide children up to age five with developmental delays with a range of developmental and social-emotional services, including speech and language, occupational and physical therapies, and social work services. With an additional $1.2 million, postpartum depression will be added as an eligible tracking category for early identification of need for EI services, which will improve well-being and health outcomes for infants and their families. With these resources in place, programs will be able to meet the needs of 63,000 children in this fiscal year. 

“Research shows that high-quality pre-k benefits children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development and confirms the commonwealth’s investment in pre-k pays dividends for the children fortunate enough to access it,” said Doster. “This investment is not only essential for our children, but high-quality early education supports labor force participation, healthy families and a globally competitive workforce of the future.” 

The full virtual roundtable visit can be found at www.pacast.com.

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