Provide Additional Families Access to Quality Early Learning Programs Proven to Cut Crime. A wide body of research tells us that expanding these investments will significantly cut the numbers of at-risk kids who grow up to become criminals. We have made good progress in Pennsylvania and these proposals will keep us moving forward.
A. Increase Pre-K Counts program $8.6 million to $95 million to serve 1,050 additional at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds. This program currently provides funding for about 11,800 3- and 4-year-olds at risk of school failure to attend high quality pre-kindergarten programs. Only about 20 percent of the states eligible children now have access to publicly-funded pre-k.
B. Maintain Head Start Supplemental Assistance program at current level of $39.48 million. This program currently serves more than 5,600 3- and 4-year-olds living in poverty. Maintaining funding is essential to reducing the educational achievement gap in Pennsylvania. New federal Head Start funds are not intended to supplant state funding and must be used to increase Pennsylvanias capacity to provide Head Start programs.
C. Maintain current state funding for Child Care Works. This program provides financial assistance for child care so that low-income parents can continue to work and provide for their families. Today, about 16,000 children in Pennsylvania are on the waiting list for subsidized child care. The Governors budget proposes to reduce the waiting list by 2,000 and federal stimulus dollars would allow Pennsylvania to fund approximately 4,300 slots for additional children whose families are struggling financially.