New State Report Shows Need for Early Childhood Development Programs

Findings Will Help State Target Funding for Programs Like Pre-K Counts,

Head Start



Oct 24, 2007, 01:00 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education

    HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than
 two-thirds of Pennsylvania's counties have social and economic conditions
 that put young children at a higher risk of academic failure, according to
 a new state report.
     The report, conducted by the state's Office of Child Development and
 Early Learning, will help state officials and educators better target
 funding for early childhood programs such as Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and
 Head Start, said Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak and Public Welfare
 Secretary Estelle B. Richman.
     "This information helps us gauge our efforts in reaching those children
 who face the greatest risks and obstacles to learning," Zahorchak said.
 "When we are able to identify these at-risk children, we can invest our
 precious education funds more strategically."
     "There is no better gift to give children than to provide them with the
 tools necessary to help them enter school ready to succeed," said Richman.
 "With this new information, we are more prepared than ever to continue
 working with families to ensure that vital funding is available for
 necessary services and support to reach those most in need."
     The report compiled information from 2006-07 on the number of children
 served by state and federal early childhood programs and the funding levels
 for those programs. It includes an analysis of educational and family risk
 factors and identifies counties most likely to benefit from early childhood
 investments based on those risk factors.
     Each county's risk level was calculated using seven criteria:
     -- The percentage of children under age five living in low-income families
        (based on 2000 U.S. Census data that defines low income as below 200
        percent of federal poverty level).
     -- The percentage of families with children under age five living below
        poverty level.
     -- The percentage of single mother-lead families with children under age
        five living below poverty level.
     -- The percentage of children receiving aid through the federal Temporary
        Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program.
     -- The rate of births to mothers with less than a high school degree.
     -- The percentage of students who were below proficient in 3rd grade math
        on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.
     -- The percentage of students who were below proficient in 3rd grade
        reading on the PSSA.
     Counties were given numeric "average risk levels" that ranged from 1.00
 to 4.00. Those at 1.00 or lower were deemed low risk, while levels from
 1.01 to 2.00 were considered moderate-low risk. Counties with risk levels
 ranging from 2.01 to 3.00 were considered moderate-high risk, while those
 above 3.00 were classified as high risk.
     Only two counties -- Bucks and Montgomery -- were classified as low
 risk, while 16 were high risk, including two -- Fayette and Green -- that
 had risk levels of 4.00. Another 31 were classified as moderate-high risk,
 while the remaining 18 were moderate-low risk.
     The statewide average risk level was 2.49.
     On average, the report found, state and federally funded early
 childhood programs reached about 26 percent of the approximately 728,000
 Pennsylvania children under age five during 2006-07.
     Research shows children who attend high-quality pre-kindergarten
 programs tend to do better in school, are less likely to repeat a grade,
 and are more likely to attend college and be more productive adults.
     Recognizing these outcomes, the 2007-08 state budget signed into law in
 July by Governor Edward G. Rendell included $75 million for the launch of
 Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts. The funds will enable 11,000 Pennsylvania three-
 and four-year-olds to have access to pre-K programs.
     The budget also increased funding for Governor Rendell's Accountability
 Block Grant program to make an additional $20 million available for
 full-day kindergarten to nearly 7,600 more families. The budget also
 continued Pennsylvania's landmark funding for Head Start. In all, the
 budget invests at least $95 million this year in quality early childhood
 programs.
     The Office of Child Development and Early Learning, which is overseen
 by the departments of Education and Public Welfare, was created under
 Governor Rendell to bring a stronger focus to helping the commonwealth's
 youngest children develop and learn to their fullest potential.
     Detailed information on the Office of Child Development and Early
 Learning study, including county-by-county statistics, can be found at the
 Pennsylvania Department of Education Web site at
 http://www.pde.state.pa.us, the Department of Public Welfare Web site at
 http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/, or at
 http://www.pde.state.pa.us/early_childhood/cwp/view.asp?a=179&q=106802&earl
 y_c hildhoodNav=|10723|&early_childhoodNav.
     CONTACT: Michael Race (PDE)
              (717) 783-9802
 
              Stacy Witalec (DPW)
              (717) 787-4592
 
 

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education
    HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than
 two-thirds of Pennsylvania's counties have social and economic conditions
 that put young children at a higher risk of academic failure, according to
 a new state report.
     The report, conducted by the state's Office of Child Development and
 Early Learning, will help state officials and educators better target
 funding for early childhood programs such as Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and
 Head Start, said Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak and Public Welfare
 Secretary Estelle B. Richman.
     "This information helps us gauge our efforts in reaching those children
 who face the greatest risks and obstacles to learning," Zahorchak said.
 "When we are able to identify these at-risk children, we can invest our
 precious education funds more strategically."
     "There is no better gift to give children than to provide them with the
 tools necessary to help them enter school ready to succeed," said Richman.
 "With this new information, we are more prepared than ever to continue
 working with families to ensure that vital funding is available for
 necessary services and support to reach those most in need."
     The report compiled information from 2006-07 on the number of children
 served by state and federal early childhood programs and the funding levels
 for those programs. It includes an analysis of educational and family risk
 factors and identifies counties most likely to benefit from early childhood
 investments based on those risk factors.
     Each county's risk level was calculated using seven criteria:
     -- The percentage of children under age five living in low-income families
        (based on 2000 U.S. Census data that defines low income as below 200
        percent of federal poverty level).
     -- The percentage of families with children under age five living below
        poverty level.
     -- The percentage of single mother-lead families with children under age
        five living below poverty level.
     -- The percentage of children receiving aid through the federal Temporary
        Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program.
     -- The rate of births to mothers with less than a high school degree.
     -- The percentage of students who were below proficient in 3rd grade math
        on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.
     -- The percentage of students who were below proficient in 3rd grade
        reading on the PSSA.
     Counties were given numeric "average risk levels" that ranged from 1.00
 to 4.00. Those at 1.00 or lower were deemed low risk, while levels from
 1.01 to 2.00 were considered moderate-low risk. Counties with risk levels
 ranging from 2.01 to 3.00 were considered moderate-high risk, while those
 above 3.00 were classified as high risk.
     Only two counties -- Bucks and Montgomery -- were classified as low
 risk, while 16 were high risk, including two -- Fayette and Green -- that
 had risk levels of 4.00. Another 31 were classified as moderate-high risk,
 while the remaining 18 were moderate-low risk.
     The statewide average risk level was 2.49.
     On average, the report found, state and federally funded early
 childhood programs reached about 26 percent of the approximately 728,000
 Pennsylvania children under age five during 2006-07.
     Research shows children who attend high-quality pre-kindergarten
 programs tend to do better in school, are less likely to repeat a grade,
 and are more likely to attend college and be more productive adults.
     Recognizing these outcomes, the 2007-08 state budget signed into law in
 July by Governor Edward G. Rendell included $75 million for the launch of
 Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts. The funds will enable 11,000 Pennsylvania three-
 and four-year-olds to have access to pre-K programs.
     The budget also increased funding for Governor Rendell's Accountability
 Block Grant program to make an additional $20 million available for
 full-day kindergarten to nearly 7,600 more families. The budget also
 continued Pennsylvania's landmark funding for Head Start. In all, the
 budget invests at least $95 million this year in quality early childhood
 programs.
     The Office of Child Development and Early Learning, which is overseen
 by the departments of Education and Public Welfare, was created under
 Governor Rendell to bring a stronger focus to helping the commonwealth's
 youngest children develop and learn to their fullest potential.
     Detailed information on the Office of Child Development and Early
 Learning study, including county-by-county statistics, can be found at the
 Pennsylvania Department of Education Web site at
 http://www.pde.state.pa.us, the Department of Public Welfare Web site at
 http://www.dpw.state.pa.us/, or at
 http://www.pde.state.pa.us/early_childhood/cwp/view.asp?a=179&q=106802&earl
 y_c hildhoodNav=|10723|&early_childhoodNav.
     CONTACT: Michael Race (PDE)
              (717) 783-9802
 
              Stacy Witalec (DPW)
              (717) 787-4592
 
 SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education