Just as every penny counts in your home, those pennies count in the government bank account, too. Each one of us is affected by spending decisions every day, and it’s not always easy to get everyone to agree on where the money should go.

The PA Battle over Budget

Right now, Pennsylvania is in a continued battle over the budget for the fiscal year that started July 1, 2015. Governor Tom Wolf has been pushing for increased spending for education and, in particular, declares early childhood education as his #1 budget priority. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Centerremains hopeful for a budget that “reinvests in education, jobs and communities”. The organization put together an informational list of reasons on Why the Budget Matters to help Pennsylvanians “count for themselves the many ways that a sustainable investment budget will positively impact real people.” Early childhood education alone takes up two spots in this 9-reason list (basic and higher education funding take up two more spots)! While this list applies to Pennsylvania, the important points it highlights are relevant to communities, schools, and states throughout the country.

Why Pre-K Funding Matters

Pre-Kindergarten funding is “Way No. 4” in the Why the Budget Matters list, citing that “Pre-K Expansion Would Enhance Education Opportunity and Economic Growth and Pay for Itself Many Times Over”. Retired military officers and business leaders are recognizing the payoff of programs like Pre-K Counts, a program established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to make quality Pre-K opportunities available to children and families across the commonwealth. These programs help children stay in school and avoid crime. Participating children are more likely to join the workforce and/or serve in the military, making a positive contribution to society. Currently, “only one in six three- and four-year-olds has access to high-quality, publicly funded Pre-K programs.” The governor would like to increase funding to allow 14,000 more children access.

Why Head Start Funding Matters

Head Start funding is “Way No. 5” on the list. The Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program for low-income, at-risk children is child-centered, family-focused, and community-based, and these federally-funded services are designed to address developmental goals for children, employment and self-sufficiency goals for adults, and support for parents in their work and child-caring roles. With the governor’s proposed increase in funding for Head Start, 2,400 more preschoolers would be able to become enrolled in addition to the current 4,847. With a waiting list of 275 children in one of PA’s 67 counties alone, every Head Start slot matters!

GrapeSEED is Ready to Help Improve Early Childhood Education

GrapeSEED has prepared to support the efforts of educators in Pennsylvania to improve the quality of early childhood education by becoming officially aligned with the Pennsylvania Pre-Kindergarten Learning Standards for Early Childhood (Language and Literacy Development). The program can be purchased with state funds to be used a supplement in Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs, as well as Keystone Stars and Early Intervention.

By investing in our children now, we are improving our schools, communities, country, and society for the future. Let’s make the budget count, not only in Pennsylvania, but in every state.

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