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PA officials highlight increased early childhood learning funding


Lancaster, PA – Governor Tom Wolf visited the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County to highlight the $30 million increase in early childhood education funding in the state budget. This new funding will allow an additional 3,270 children enroll in the state’s high-quality early learning programs.

The governor was joined by Rep. Michael Sturla, Secretary of Education Noe Ortega, Acting Secretary of Human Services Meg Snead, President and CEO of United Way of Lancaster Kevin Ressler, PA Early Learning Investment Commission board member Jan Bergan, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster Executive Director Vanessa Philbert, and Melisha Melecio, a parent of a child enrolled in early childhood education.


“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.”

Pennsylvania administers two early childhood learning programs: Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance (Head Start). Both programs ensure access to high-quality early learning programs for low-income families with children. Together with $145 million in funding increases secured over the past six years for the programs, this year’s $30 million will increase funding for Pre-K Counts by 149% and funding for Head Start by 77% since 2014-15.

“Pennsylvania is ready to get back on track from COVID-19, but to do that we need to make equitable, people-first investments in our commonwealth,” said Gov. Wolf. “This year’s budget does that by investing additional funds in early childhood education. By ensuring that high-quality early education and child care options are available for families who need them we will help parents and caregivers return to the workforce with confidence that their children are receiving the care they need and deserve.”

The $30 million early childhood education increase includes:

  • $25 million increase for Pre-K Counts, equating to an additional 2,800 children.
  • $5 million for Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, equating to an additional 470 children.

“Investments in our children as they learn and grow during their first few years of life are critical,” said Education Secretary Noe Ortega. “Pennsylvania’s budget continues to build upon and invest in the places we know resources in education are needed the most, which includes high-quality early learning programs.”

“Both the Governor and I would always like to do more in the area of early childhood development and its funding,” said Rep. Sturla. “While this important funding is what we could get in this year’s budget, we hope that the Republicans release more of the stimulus funds to help working families in the near future.”

“This is an investment in our children and our education system, but it is also an investment in a better, more prosperous future for all Pennsylvanians,” said Gov. Wolf.