READING, PA — YMCA of Reading in Berks County welcomed Governor Tom Wolf and local leaders on Monday to mark the $30 million pre-k expansion included in the 2021-22 Pennsylvania budget.
Governor Wolf discussed the importance of the continued investment in high-quality pre-k in PA with community leaders and visited with the students and teachers at YMCA of Reading. The $30 million increase included in the final 2021-22 state budget will afford more than 3,200 additional children to attend pre-k in the upcoming school year.
“Every child in Pennsylvania deserves the chance to succeed,” said Gov. Wolf. “Early childhood education programs give each child a good foundation for success. After the challenges of the past year, we must do more to support them. Investing in high-quality early childhood education can grow our economy and is the right thing to do—not just for our economy’s future, but for today’s workers, too.”
Joining Governor Wolf in the discussion was PA Deputy Secretary of Education Sherri Smith – Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Kim Johnson, President & CEO of YMCA of Reading and Berks County, Tammy White, President of United Way of Berks County / Pre-K for PA Partner, Julia H. Klein, Chairwoman & CEO of C.H. Briggs Company – Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission, Yessenia Vasquez, Parent of Pre-K Child, and Members of the Berks County Legislative Delegation.
“Berks County wins when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when people are making healthy choices,” said White. “This vision begins in early childhood education, and it is why United Ways all across Pennsylvania are a partner in the Pre-K for PA Campaign and advocate on behalf of early childhood education for more of Pennsylvania’s children.”
A new study by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill confirmed that the commonwealth’s investment in pre-k is paying dividends for the children fortunate enough to access pre-k through Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts program. In language and math skills, the study showed that these kids outperformed their kindergarten peers who did not enjoy access—an advantage that equated to four to five months of learning gains, which is a substantial difference in development at that age.
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