Pennsylvania Demonstrates Comprehensive Approach Benefits School Readiness
Sep 21, 2007
A special report from the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) documents the benefits of investments in young children. According to the report, "Pennsylvania children are reaping the rewards of great gains achieved this past year in the expansion of health coverage and early learning programs such as pre-K. These public policy accomplishments help assure that more children than ever before are entering school ready to learn and prepared to succeed.
Using analysis of annual data on a number of indicators, PPC found that young children in the state are better off. Yet there are also critical gaps, particularly in access to child care assistance: while the report notes that the number of child care subsidy slots for infants, toddlers, and preschool children increased by nearly 5,500 from the previous year, there are currently more than 8,000 children birth to 12 on the waiting list. The report also highlights the limited availability of high quality care, defined as the number of centers or family child providers who are accredited by a national body.
PPC s use of data to encourage investments in comprehensive supports for young children as part of a school readiness agenda is part of a national movement to identify indicators of success and help states develop the policies needed to better support children and families. Earlier this year, the National Center for Children in Poverty released 50 state data on a number of policies that support children s healthy development from birth to five.
Every state should be undertaking an effort like that in Pennsylvania to collect and analyze data in order to better understand the impact the full range of state policies have on young children. To start, we recommend that states look at their expenditures and participation within their state child care subsidy program and data on Head Start programs in their state. Without powerful advocacy tools like this new report, states will fail to make the investments necessary to ensure that every child has the supports they need to enter school ready to learn.