HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso said the 2017-18 state budget proposal Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled today would improve the quality of life for Pennsylvania's children across the four key policy areas of the organization's work to make Pennsylvania one of the top 10 states to be a child and to raise a child.
"We support the Governor's budget proposal because it very clearly seeks to improve the health, education and well-being of children and youth in our state. The Governor and Legislature have a difficult job to do and we appreciate their support for programs and services that help keep children healthy, learning and safe. We start this budget season with the Governor demonstrating a strong commitment to investments that help build a brighter future for children and our Commonwealth."
The Governor's proposal includes the following investments:
- $65 million in additional funding for the state's Pre-K Counts program and an additional $10 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program.
- An additional $9 million investment in evidence-based home visiting programs that would support 1,700 additional families.
- A $35 million increase in state funds for child care - including $10 million that will make it possible for 1,800 kids currently on state waiting lists to enroll in a child care program.
- A $100 million increase for Basic Education Funding to be driven out through the newly-enacted student-weighted formula that would increase the state's fair share of providing basic education services to students.
- An increase of $25 million for special education funding through the enacted Special Education Funding Formula.
"We all want the best for kids, but there are 112,900 eligible children who currently qualify for publicly funded pre-k but are not being served. Kids don't get 'do-overs' or another chance to attend high-quality pre-k and the $75 million expansion the Governor is proposing would give almost 8,400 additional young children this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," noted Benso.
In regards to child welfare, the Governor's budget allocates an increase of more than $57 million designed to meet the goals of county child welfare needs based budgets.
The Governor's proposed budget also includes continued state funding for both the Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Federal CHIP funding is currently only authorized through Sept. 30, 2017, making it a high priority for congressional action.
"More than 40 percent of Pennsylvania children are covered through Medicaid and CHIP. As discussions continue regarding a possible ACA repeal, it's important to note that Medicaid and CHIP are funded through a state-federal partnership, with the federal government picking up most the costs for both programs," she said.
"We look forward to continuing this process with the General Assembly who we know are committed to making Pennsylvania a better place for our children and families," said Benso.
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a strong, effective and trusted voice to improve the health, education and well-being of children and youth in the commonwealth. For 25 years, PPC's public policy victories have helped countless children learn, thrive and succeed, regardless of circumstances. PPC is statewide, independent, non-partisan and non-profit.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children