Early Education in PA Takes Giant Leap Forward in 2007

State Still Has Room to Grow in Improving Child Care Access & Quality

PPC Releases its 2007 School Readiness Report

Sep 13, 2007, 01:00 ET from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children

    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
 717-236-5680, kgmyers@papartnerships.org.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children