Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh County) co-founded and has served as a
co-chair of the Early Childhood Education Caucus since its creation in
2010. Senator Browne serves as Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman as well
as a member of the Banking and Insurance, Education, Finance and Transportation
Committees. He is also a member of the Senate Majority Policy Committee. Senator
Browne currently serves as Co-Chair of the Basic Education Funding Commission
and previously served as Co-Chair of the Special Education Funding Commission.
Senator Browne represents the 16th Senatorial District and was first elected to
the State Senate in 2005. He previously served in the state House of
Representatives starting in 1995.
“Programs such as Pre-K Counts, Head Start and Keystone Stars have a
proven track record of success and have demonstrated that children who
participate in early education programs are better equipped to maximize their
primary and secondary education experience. Young people who fall behind in
school are more likely to drop out and are less likely to become productive and
successful members of their communities and of our highly-skilled and
competitive workforce.” - Senator Browne
Representative Mark Longietti (D-Mercer County) has served
as a co-chair of the Early Childhood Education Caucus since the fall of 2014 and
has been a member of the caucus since its inception in 2010. Rep. Longietti
serves as Democratic Chair of the Committee on Ethics, Basic Education
Subcommittee, and Recreation Subcommittee, and is a member of the Commerce
Committee, Consumer Affairs Committee, and Committee on Committees. He is also
the Vice Chair of the House Democratic Policy Committee. Rep. Longietti serves
on the Basic Education Funding Commission and previously served on the Special
Education Funding Commission. Rep. Longietti represents the 7th Legislative
District and was first elected to the state House in 2006.
“Access to quality early childhood education is critical as research shows
that 90 percent of brain connections are developed by age five. Yet, in
Pennsylvania today, only 18 percent of three- and four-year-olds have access to
high-quality early childhood education programs. That’s why proposals to make
significant new investments in Pre-K Counts and Head Start are so important.
After all, peer reviewed studies show that such investments produce a return of
$7 to $16 for each dollar invested.” - Representative Longietti
2014-15 State Budget Included
Increase in PA Pre-K Counts Program
Last year, thanks in large part to the successful efforts of the Early
Childhood Education Caucus & early learning advocates, the 2014-15 State Budget
was approved with a $10 million increase in funding for Pennsylvania Pre-K
Counts programs. The additional funding brought the total increased investment
in Pre-K Counts since 2011 to $13.6 million or a 16.3 percent increase. For an
additional 1,670 Pennsylvania pre-school children, this will provide access to
high-quality early learning services.
Pre-K Counts provides research-based, high-quality pre-kindergarten
opportunities to at-risk children across the commonwealth by leveraging existing
early education services in school districts, Keystone STARS childcare programs,
Head Start and licensed nursery schools. These programs help more of our
children perform at grade level, graduate from high school, succeed in college
and earn more as adults.
Early Learning in PA
Each year, about 150,000 children
enter Pennsylvania’s kindergarten classrooms. Some are ready to learn, but many
are not. Investing in high-quality early learning opportunities prepares our
children for school success, boosts the economy and generates short- and
long-term economic results. By any measure, early learning is a smart
Pennsylvania has an array of
high-quality programs focused on early childhood development and education that
are managed through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL),
which is overseen jointly by the Department of Education and the Department of
Human Services. They include:
- Early Intervention - Early Intervention (EI) Services focus on at-risk
infants and toddlers or those with developmental delays up to age five to ensure
they receive needed services and supports to maximize their development. In
fiscal 2013-14, more than 88,500 children birth to school-age received EI
- Home Visiting – In home visiting, nurses and other trained professionals
visit families beginning as early as pregnancy through age five to empower parents
to make healthier decisions for themselves and their children’s health,
well-being, learning and development. More than 20,400 children were helped in
fiscal 2012-13 through four evidence-based home visiting models (Early Head
Start, Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, and Parents as
Teachers) that serve all but two of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties (Potter and
- Child Care – The Commonwealth’s subsidized child care program, Child Care
Works (CCW), makes child care more affordable to low-income working families and
allows parents to be more focused and productive on the job. On average, about
116,000 children participate in CCW each month. High-quality child care
providers also help prepare our children for school success. Keystone STARS is
Pennsylvania’s quality rating improvement system for child care and offers
families a valuable tool to gauge quality in programs. An estimated 166,000
children are enrolled in Keystone STARS facilities. Training, professional
development and technical assistance are offered to help providers attain higher
levels of quality and funding is provided to attain and maintain quality levels
and support providers caring for subsidized children. Rising STARS is an
initiative within the Keystone STARS program designed to ensure more at-risk
children have access to the highest quality child care providers. Pennsylvania
also regulates and enforces operating standards for over 8,100 child care
facilities (child care centers, group child care homes, and family child care
homes) to ensure the health, safety and rights of children.
- Pre-K – Pennsylvania has a variety of public and private programs to
provide high-quality pre-k. Programs that have reached key quality standards
include Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP),
and Keystone STAR 3 and 4 programs. In fiscal 2013-14, about 56,206 preschool
children had the opportunity to attend publicly funded pre-k in our state, but
that amounted to only about one in six of Pennsylvania’s three- and four-year-olds, leaving
many children without this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. High-quality pre-k is
especially beneficial to children whose educational opportunities are hindered
by poverty or other circumstances, helping them enter kindergarten better
prepared and less likely to struggle to keep pace with their peers.
Fight Crime: Invest In Kids
||Fifty percent of Pennsylvania’s state
prison population has failed to receive a high school diploma.
Education is often that pivotal factor between possible incarceration
and productive citizenship.
Long term studies are clear that at-risk
children that participate in high-quality early care and education
programs are less likely to commit crime, be arrested, incarcerated and
less likely to use drugs. They are also more likely to graduate
from high school and not require ongoing social services.
Pennsylvania spends just over $2 billion for the Department of Corrections -
preventing people from turning to crime in the first place would save the public
millions of dollars.
Carlisle Police Chief Stephen Margeson
Early Learning Promotes National
||Seventy-two percent of today’s young Pennsylvanians are not
eligible for military service because they lack adequate education, are
medically or physically unfit or have disqualifying criminal records.
This shocking reality is concerning because it undermines
the military’s efforts to recruit high-quality individuals. High-quality early
learning programs can help to better prepare our children to be citizen ready by
boosting graduation rates, deterring youth from crime and even reducing obesity
rates, all while providing a significant return on investment.
This is why the Department of Defense has developed their
own early care and education system available to all active duty families. To
learn more visit
www.missionreadiness.org or read our recent report
(Ret.) Dennis Benchoff
Building Assets for the Future Workforce
By: Peter Danchak,
President, Northeast Region, PNC Bank
Co-Chair, Early Learning Investment Commission
In recent years, employers have started looking for more
and more workers with specific proficiencies: science, technology,
engineering, math (STEM) skills, and executive function skills that prepare
employees to work on a team, display leadership, think critically, and practice
Based on personal experience, I can tell you that the
banking industry requires expertise in both areas. Executive function skills
help workers to better interact with colleagues and clients, become more
organized, and better prepare to adjust to changing circumstances. In fact, 93
of more than 300 employers surveyed agreed that a candidate’s demonstrated executive
function skills are more important than their undergraduate major.
Additionally, STEM jobs continue to be in high demand in
the United States. While there are 3.6 people for every one job across all U.S. occupations,
there is only one person for every 1.9 jobs in the STEM field. In the next 10
years, STEM jobs will grow by 17 percent, compared to 9.8 percent for all other occupations.
So, how do we help employers find workers to suit their
needs? The answer lies in quality early childhood education.
Approximately 90 percent of the brain is developed by age five.
Tests measuring different forms of executive function skills indicate that these
skills begin to develop shortly after birth, with ages three-to-five being a window of
opportunity for the most dramatic growth. Research also confirms that the brain
is particularly receptive to learning STEM between the ages of one and four.
Quality early learning programs play a key role in
developing both executive function and STEM skills, as the child has the
opportunity to interact with peers and authority figures, as well as to nurture
their scientifically inquisitive natures (young children ask an average of 76
questions per hour). And providing children with early exposure to quality STEM
experiences enhances their later interest in related career fields.
In short, the early years are the best time for an
individual to become an asset to the future workforce. To learn more, please
visit Pennsylvania’s Early Learning Investment Commission’s website at