Pre-K Education

Access to high-quality pre-K significantly improves children’s language, literacy, math, and social/emotional skills. However, Pennsylvania has been losing ground on the accessibility of pre-K compared to other states with relatively low percentages of three- year-olds and four-year-olds in our state attending pre-K.

Issue Basics

Ninety percent of brain development in children takes place by the age of five. This makes early childhood education especially critical in a child’s mental, physical, and emotional development.

Research shows that attending a pre-K program has numerous and significant benefits. Access to high-quality pre-K significantly improves children’s language, literacy, math, and social/emotional skills when they enter kindergarten, thereby lessening disparities in learning that exist from the very beginning of school. The effects of quality pre-K programs go beyond primary school as well. Participants in pre-K programs are more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college, which not only benefits them but our state’s economy as well. One analysis of 20 studies of high-quality pre-K programs shows that the economic benefit for each child who attends a good pre-K program adds up to more than $34,000 for each child served, which includes reductions in the cost of crime, special education, and grade repetition, as well as increases in wages over a lifetime.  (Click here for citations to this research.)

Access to affordable pre-K also helps low- and middle-income families by eliminating the often crushing costs of early childhood education and childcare. In Pennsylvania, the annual average cost of a four-year-old’s childcare in a center is $8,727, which is out of reach for many families of modest means.

Pre-K is incredibly popular among the residents of Pennsylvania, and universal access for three- and four- year-olds should be a priority for us as a state. Seventy-five percent of Pennsylvania voters favor an increase in funding for high-quality, publicly funded pre-K in the state.


PA Fails Low-Income Preschoolers

Waslala Miranda | 01/16/2015

Why the Budget Matters: No. 4 — Pre-Kindergarten Funding

14,000 more children statewide would gain entrance into pre-kindergarten.

PA Fails Low-Income Preschoolers

A national education report card gave Pennsylvania a grade of D+ and a ranking of 41st among states for...