In the face of limited resources, local and state advocates for early learning have continued to lead the way with innovative efforts that demonstrate the impact of high-quality early learning opportunities and the necessity of investing in America’s greatest resource: its people. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children recently released new resources that speak to the critical role of publicly-funded, high-quality pre-K programs as part of the continuum of learning and articulates what needs to happen next to support young children growing up in the state. The report, ‘A Path Forward: Publicly Funded, High-Quality Pre-K in Pennsylvania’, parses out any grey areas in terms of identifying unmet pre-K need and accessibility issues in the state’s 500 school districts from the urban, suburban, and rural perspective. In the state’s last two budget cycles, bipartisan support for publicly funded, high-quality pre-K resulted in increased state funding, and continued investment is necessary to serve the population of eligible children. Currently, there are 112,900 eligible preschool children who qualify for high-quality, publicly funded pre-K, but remain unserved.
Along with the report is an interactive mapping resource that visualizes unmet Pre-K need and accessibility issues across the commonwealth at the Senate district and state House district levels. Users can find local data on children served, unmet need, the number of high-quality providers, current capacity, and the number of additional pre-K classrooms needed to support the eligible population of children in a district. All children need high-quality early childhood development, but low-income children are least likely to get it. By prioritizing the ability to find targeted Pre-K data from a legislative and school district perspective, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children aims to accelerate discussions about expanding access to publicly funded, high-quality pre-K in the context of state government.