Statewide coalition unveils ‘Pre-K for PA’ campaign

    In 2014, the Pre-K for PA broad-based coalition of organizations from across the state plans to campaign heavily in support of providing access to high-quality pre-kindergarten for all of Pennsylvania’s three- and four-year-old children.

    Those efforts kicked off Thursday at a launch event at Karabots Pediatric Care Center in West Philadelphia.

    It generated enthusiastic support from a wide range of stakeholders including educators, law-enforcement representatives, healthcare providers, parents, children and non-profit organizations.

    What they said

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    Despite the group’s diversity, every speaker pledged strong support for the shared goal of increasing access to quality Pre-K programs.

    Several speakers touted research demonstrating that children who have access to high-quality pre-kindergarten enjoy benefits that continue throughout their lifetimes.

    They included higher graduation rates, lower crime rates, diminished need for special and remedial education and higher employment rates.

    Yet despite those personal, social and economic benefits, just 20 percent of eligible Pennsylvania children can currently access high-quality publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs. The Pre-K for PA campaign aims to level that playing field.

    “No child’s destiny should be decided by his or her fifth birthday,” said Jill Michal, president and CEO of United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

    Call for action

    The Pre-K for PA campaign calls upon citizens, parents, educators, business and community leaders to ensure that the high-quality Pre-K issue rises to the forefront during this gubernatorial election year and beyond.

    Rev. Sharon Easterling, executive director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children, closed the event with a promise.

    “We intend to ensure that every candidate running for office in the Commonwealth understands the scientific logic, the fiscal prudence, the social foresight, the moral imperative and the political wisdom of making high-quality Pre-K accessible to all the children of our Commonwealth,” she said.

    More information about the campaign is available on the PreK for PA website.

    Collaborating for the launch was the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children; the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Mission: Readiness; the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children; the Pennsylvania Head Start Association; Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children; the Pittsburgh Area Association for the Education of Young Children; Public Citizens for Children and Youth and the United Way of Greater and Southern New Jersey.

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