Few kids have access to public preschool in Pa., survey finds

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    A recent study shows Pennsylvania has some work to do to prepare young children for school.

    The finding by the advocacy group Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children reveals just under 16 percent of young children have access to public early education in the commonwealth.

    State funding for early education has been either cut or stagnant for the past few years, said spokesman Mike Race, leading to declines in the percentage of children in publicly funded pre-K.

    “Now we’ve got new investments in this current fiscal year in pre-K programs like Head Start and Pre-K Counts, but it probably won’t be for another year or two before we start to see those increased investments generate into more kids accessing publicly-funded pre-K,” he said.

    The 2013 report uses data from a number of federal Census surveys and state agencies.

    Race acknowledged that it’s possible that the remaining roughly 84 percent of children without access to publicly funded pre-K are enrolled in some kind of private school.

    He said it doesn’t refute his group’s argument, based on a preponderance of research, that making early education widely accessible reduces education costs in the long term and better prepares children for school and life beyond the classroom.

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