HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania
Partnerships for Children (PPC) today released its annual report on School
Readiness in Pennsylvania. The publication highlights key indicators that
illustrate the health, education and well-being of our youngest learners.
The indicators are divided into four categories that measure school
readiness: Ready Communities & Families; Ready Services - Health; Ready
Services - Early Care & Education; and Ready Schools. This report and the
indicators shown were designed to give policymakers and community leaders
the information they need to measure the outcomes of their investments and
to target resources for the future.
The report indicates that investments in school readiness programs have
reached an all-time high, due in part to the implementation of the
Commonwealth's "Cover All Kids" CHIP expansion and the growth of early
learning programs. With the passage in July and recent implementation of
Pre-K Counts, more children than ever before have access to high-quality
pre-kindergarten this school year leading to even stronger gains next year.
However, despite the gains, more needs to be done to provide access to
child care (more than 8,000 children are on the waiting list to receive
subsidized child care) and improve the quality of child care (only 4.1
percent of the child care available in the Commonwealth is of the highest
"Without a doubt this is a positive report card for Pennsylvania," said
Joan L. Benso, President & CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
"The Commonwealth clearly is taking important steps to improve the school
readiness of our youngest learners and should continue its successful
investment strategy in the years to come. We look forward to releasing this
report annually so policymakers, parents and the public can see how far
we've come - and what more needs to be done."
While there was slight improvement in availability of high-quality
child care (from 3.8 percent in 2006 to 4.1 percent in 2007), the reality
is that more than 95 percent of child care in Pennsylvania is not of the
highest quality, defined as NAEYC (National Association for the Education
of Young Children) and NAFCC (National Association for Family Child Care)
accredited or Keystone Star 4 rating. Children who receive high-quality
child care show better literacy skills and score higher on tests of both
cognitive and social skills than children cared for in other arrangements.
High-quality early care and education programs have demonstrated a strong
return on investment.
"While passage of Pre-K Counts in July enabled 11,000 new children to
start pre-kindergarten classes a few weeks ago, it's just the tip of the
iceberg in creating access to high-quality early education for all 3- and
4-year-olds in Pennsylvania," Benso added. "We need to grow this investment
and build on the victory achieved this year."
Furthermore, while passage of "Cover all Kids" last year expanded
eligibility for CHIP and created an opportunity for every child in
Pennsylvania to have access to health insurance, that opportunity hangs in
the balance as Congress works to reauthorize SCHIP, the State Children's
Health Insurance Program, by the Sept. 30 deadline. The Bush Administration
- while threatening to veto reauthorization - also compounded the situation
by releasing a directive a few weeks ago that said states cannot sign up
any new enrollees until they have enrolled 95 percent of eligible children
under 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. This move threatens the
future of "Cover All Kids" in Pennsylvania which raised income eligibility
limits to insure children whose parents earn too much to qualify for
Medicaid, yet still don't make enough to afford private, employer-based
More information may be obtained by visiting www.papartnerships.org or
by calling Kathy Geller Myers, PPC Communications Director, at
SOURCE Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children