What's Up with the State Budget?

Release Date: March 1, 2014

 The Pennsylvania 14-15 Proposed Early Learning Budget

TAKE ACTION! 

The Senate and House will start their negotiations about the Governor’s proposed budget shortly and once again we need your help.

What do we know?

For more than a decade, Pennsylvania has been building a nationally recognized system of high-quality early learning services that produces improved child outcomes for the children of the commonwealth.

However, despite our progress and its proven results,

  • Only 18 percent of the commonwealth’s 3- and 4-year-olds have access to high-quality, publicly-funded pre-k. 

  • There is still $56 million less in child care dollars than in 2010 and far too many of our child care providers are below the desired STAR 3 and STAR 4 quality designations.

The governor proposed the following in his FY 2014-2015 budget plan:

  • Increasing funding for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts by $10 million serving an additional 1,670 children.

  • Using nearly $21 million in expanded federal support for child care; about $15 million will remove 2,895 children from the child care subsidy waiting list.

What do we want?

More action is needed to reduce unmet need and more funding is necessary to continue building a high-quality early care and education system in Pennsylvania.  Specifically the commonwealth should:

  • Build on the governor’s $10 million proposal for Pre-K Counts and increase overall participation in high-quality pre-k through Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program by 35% from FY 13-14 for a total of $46.1 million, serving a total of over 5,800 additional children.

  •  Lift the rate freeze to assure that all providers are subject to the same rate for reimbursement. State payment rates were frozen in 2009, however providers entering the system after that time could set their rates at the maximum payment levels. Rescind the freeze effective January 1, 2015 for a total of $14.4 million.

  • Build on efforts to support the early childhood workforce in gaining the education and credentials they need to provide high-quality, early learning experiences for PA’s young children by increasing funding for the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program by $9 million.

  • Ensure more at-risk children have access to high-quality child care by making the next investment in the Rising STARS initiative by increasing child care subsidy tiered reimbursement rates for STAR 3 and 4 providers so government funding comes closer to covering the true cost of high-quality care for a total of $11.4 million.

What Can You Do?

Use your voice; you are the expert regarding how young children learn and develop as well as the most effective strategies to reach young children. You also know the best ways to engage and empower parents (our partners).

You know the challenges of providing high quality, enriching programs for young children. You have a powerful voice that can express how public programs can help you do a better job of providing this service.

This April, commit to these 3 actions:

  • Make contact with your legislator. Let him/her know why investments in early childhood are important! Here are a couple ideas for how to do that:

  • Mail children’s artwork to your legislators with a note explaining why they should care about our littlest learners.

  • Show and Tell: Provide a tour to your legislator.  There is nothing like helping our leaders understand early learning by providing them with a tour of your program. Make sure that all elected officials who take tours have a clear message from you about what they can do to help!