How can Pre-K Help?

Pre-K and Crime

“Pay for high-quality early education programs now, or pay far more later for the costs of crime and lack of educational success”.

That’s the conclusion of a recent report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids which discusses many ways Pre-K programs can help reduce crime and keep at-risk children in school. The report, entitled, “Pre-K Key to Cutting Pennsylvania Prison Costs and Boosting School Success”, explains statistical findings, from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, which connect lack of education with an increased chance for incarceration.  For example, 26.3% of current state prison inmates have less than a 12th grade education. High school dropouts are more likely to end up in prison.  Many prisoners find it difficult to find employment after incarceration, and education is one of the reasons why.

The report also outlines several different Pre-K programs in the nation and how they have positively impacted children and society as a whole. For example, a study in Chicago focusing on the Chicago Child-Parent Centers (CPC) showed that “children not served by the Chicago CPC program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18”.

How can Pre-K help?      

Publicly funded pre-k programs focus on providing at-risk kids with high-quality early learning programs. These programs can provide better schooling outcomes because kids will be ready for school, won’t be held back, and will have a lower chance of dropping out before completing high school.  Because individuals who do not graduate high school are more likely to commit crimes, this means reduced prison costs.  According to the Department of Corrections, Pennsylvania currently spends $3.2 billion each year on state and local corrections.

Pre-K programs ensure that children have the opportunity for quality early education.  The report discusses how early experiences determine how a young brain is wired.  This wiring becomes the building blocks through which all later learning is incorporated.  Early education prepares children to succeed in school.

Long-term benefits

The goal of this report is to show that Pennsylvania has a simple choice.  Pennsylvanians could see almost $150 million in societal benefits over their lifetime with Governor Wolf’s proposed $40 million funding increase for Pre-K Counts and Head Start State Supplemental Assistance programs in 2018-2019.  This funding would benefit an estimated 4,400 additional low-income Pennsylvania children.  Pre-K works and the benefits show that these programs more than pay for themselves!  To read the full report click here.

United Ways encourage all Pennsylvanians who understand that high quality Pre-K and Head Start are beneficial for our kids and our economy to do two things: 1) become supporters of the Pre-K for PA campaign here and contact your state legislators (find yours here) to urge them to support $40 million in the 2018 -2019 state budget so that another 4400 of PA’s at-risk kids will have access to high quality early childhood education next year.


“Why Not PA?”

Think back to your first job. Did you sit there on your first day not knowing what to do? Or did you have a head start due to your background knowledge. If you had to do it all over again, would you have brushed up a little before jumping straight in? How quickly were you able to advance?

Looking back, the opportunity to invest in your future feels like a no-brainer. You would take it. Now, apply that same type of logic to the children of the commonwealth. High-quality pre-k programs are the crash course beginnings that put children ahead, ultimately putting Pennsylvania ahead. Future employers would see cost cuts as well as better workers. Children in pre-k develop a host of skills including character and social development, conflict resolution, and even negotiation–all qualities that employers seek in future hires.

How does this benefit the entire state of Pennsylvania? The push for pre-k in Pennsylvania crafts students ready for kindergarten and sets the stage for success. Successful students turn into productive members of society. Pre-k investments save taxpayer dollars by reducing the need for special education and remedial instruction. At-risk children who attend high-quality pre-k are less likely to commit a crime later in life, cutting taxpayer costs associated with public safety and prosecution. Long-term, every dollar invested in high-quality pre-k amounts to money back in the commonwealth’s pocket.

You would think these benefits would make high quality pre-k an easy investment, but Pennsylvania ranks 18th out of 30 states that make public investments in high-quality pre-k.  Other states are outpacing Pennsylvania, such as our neighboring states New York ($1,736), New Jersey ($3,277), Maryland ($1,005) and West Virginia ($2,248), who are investing much more per capita than the commonwealth ($792).  In order, to grow Pennsylvania’s investment into high-quality pre-k, state policymakers need to make the smart investment to serve at-risk children.  This would mean investing $85 million in the 2018-19 fiscal year to double the expansion of the last three year, and grow the investment with an additional $225 million by the 2020-21 fiscal year.

With a 1:4 return rate on taxpayer dollars spent, why not PA?

To learn more about the benefits of high-quality pre-k and why PA should make the investment, read the Why Not PA report.

UWP Honored to Join as Principal Partner with Pre-K for PA Campaign

UWP is pleased to announce our partnership with the Pre-K for PA campaign! This is the first year we have joined the campaign as a principal partner, but have long been supporters of their efforts.  We are honored to advocate for early childhood education and bring more awareness to the benefits of high-quality pre-k in the educational development of Pennsylvania’s children.

The campaign’s vision is to ensure all children are able to enter school ready to succeed by making high-quality pre-k accessible to every 3- and 4- year old in Pennsylvania.  The goal is that by 2022, every at-risk child will have access to a high-quality pre-k program and middle-income families will more easily afford these services for their children.  It will take a significant investment from the state to ensure this goal can be reached and UWP, along with the Pre-K for PA campaign’s other partners, are certain this can be achieved through education and a commitment from our state lawmakers.

In the months to come, UWP will be sharing various information on the benefits high-quality pre-k provide Pennsylvania’s children, so please continue to follow our social media channels, as well as our other communications, such as UWP’s Monthly E-Letter (you can sign-up here) for ways to engage in this essential campaign.  If you would like to join the Pre-K for PA campaign, you can do so here.

Let’s LIVE UNITED to fight for the education of every child in every community throughout this commonwealth!

Principals Throughout PA Agree Pre-K Makes a Difference

In a newly released report, the Pennsylvania Principals Association, in partnership with the Pre-K for PA Campaign, conducted a statewide survey to gauge how principals in elementary schools across Pennsylvania feel about high-quality pre-k and its importance in building the necessary foundation for children entering kindergarten with the tools to succeed.

With overwhelming results, more than 97% of elementary school principals agree high-quality pre-k is vital for the success of kindergarten students as they move throughout grades.  The responses from the statewide survey were from a wide-mix of school districts, including rural, urban, and suburban.

Research has proven the impacts access to high-quality pre-k has on our children.  Some of the impacts principals reported noticing from those students who participate in a high-quality pre-k program include age appropriate behavior, reading readiness, a demonstration of early numeracy concepts, a reduced need for remediation, and a reduction in IEP services.  Additional research has shown access to pre-k is especially beneficial for low-income students.

United Way of Pennsylvania is proud to partner with the Pre-K for PA campaign to bring awareness to the need of high-quality pre-k programs throughout the Commonwealth.  With continued investments in this work, there is no doubt our students will improve their academic success.  However, we are faced with a challenge of providing these programs to those in need.

Approximately 64 percent, or 2 in 3, eligible preschoolers do not have the opportunity to attend a publicly funded, high -quality pre-k program.  Nearly 420 of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts enroll a kindergarten class where 40 percent or more children who are eligible for high-quality pre-k do not have the opportunity.  According to the report, there are only 32 commonwealth school districts where 80 percent or more kindergarten children who are eligible for publicly funded, high-quality pre-k had the opportunity to attend.

UWP and the Pre-K for PA campaign will continue to fight for our children to have the access they need to enter kindergarten ready to learn.  With continued increased investments into pre-k and head start programs we can begin to close the gap between those who are struggling to get the jump start they need to be successful students.  We encourage you to read the report and stay informed on efforts to give every Pennsylvania child the opportunity to attend a high-quality pre-k program.  You can sign-up for the Pre-K for PA campaign here.


Insider Experience- Melissa Anese UWP Summer Intern!

Reflecting back on my entire internship, I feel like it’s been far more than a summer. Here at United Way of Pennsylvania, I hit the ground running. I remember in my first week going to meetings about community schools and sitting in on UWW webinars. I even made my first guest appearance in the Capitol during week one. I was expose to the budget season and what it takes to advocate on behalf of a cause. Informing legislators about 2-1-1 seemed like a no-brainer until you compile that alongside politics.

Shadowing Maggie in the Capitol really gave me the insider’s view into how successful advocates work. You have to know the lay of the land, all the legislators by face, and their staff. At first, it all was quite overwhelming, but as you get familiar with the whole process, it actually makes you feel like you somewhat know what’s up.

I feel like all of my accomplishments have come within the last month or so. In June, I laid out the conference program, which was really just the practice round for everything else I was going to do. Between legislator list updates and other tedious work, I became ready to devise my own projects. During the internship, I produced three main works which I can proudly call my own:

Advocacy Toolkit—The advocacy toolkit serves as a resource for Local United Way members to aid them in advocacy efforts. Establishing a connection with your local representative up at the state level creates a very smooth connection in times where you need legislative support. This toolkit was designed with tips and tricks in mind alongside what United Way’s expectations for LUWs are and what United Way of Pennsylvania has to offer for its members.

United Way of Pennsylvania Membership Directory for Legislators—This has probably been my favorite project so far. The Membership Directory is for legislators so they can see what their United Way is up to and what types of efforts and programs are being made around the Commonwealth. Each UWP member has their own page explaining their vision, mission, key focuses, programs they support, and what kind of work they are up to. It’s another legislative tool that manifests itself as almost a quick reference guide to PA United Ways. It also features advertisements from local community partners of member United Ways so legislators can see some of the real world impact United Way has had.

UWW Marketing Refresher Webinar—This project demanded a lot of digging from me and brought out my creative mind. Alongside UWW’s 2017 credo update came new marketing strategies and materials. I decided to host a webinar refreshing members on what exactly those changes are, how to readapt to the new messaging, and resources that are out there for them to utilize.

Though these projects feel like a huge part of my internship, they came along swimmingly in the grand scheme of my daily work. There is a lot to say when it comes to non-profit advocacy, especially when you’re heavily into public policy work. My internship here at United Way of Pennsylvania has taught me a lot about the real life way of advocacy and getting things accomplished. The internship has also taught me a lot about my design skills. Mostly, this internship has aided me in professional growth, experience, and has only furthered my pursuit of advocacy work. Thank you, Kristen, Maggie, Lois, and all of those LUW members I met along the way who showed me how cool you cats really are—the faces of non-profit work, the hand-raisers, the game-changers, LIVE UNITED.

Pre-K Investments Make Sense for a Better Future for our Children

Investments into early childhood education is a pathway for a better tomorrow for our children, our state, and our future.  Recently, the Council for a Strong America, a national, bipartisan nonprofit uniting five organizations comprised of law enforcement leaders, retired admirals and generals, business executives, pastors, and prominent coaches and athletes, released a report highlighting how pre-k is the key to boosting school success and cutting prison costs in Pennsylvania.

The report goes into depth on the societal benefits that Pennsylvania and our country can see with investments into early childhood education. Providing at-risk kids with high quality early learning programs will contribute to less crime and incarceration in the future.  Not only is this better for our children, it saves our state money in the long run.  In fact, for every disadvantaged child that participates in a high-quality pre-k program, there is an average “profit ” of more than $29,000 to society for each child served.  Governor Wolf proposed a $75 million investment into Pre-K and Head Start programs for the 2017-18 budget, which would give 8,400 children the opportunity to attend a Pre-K program.  If that investment goes through, and based on the cost-figure presented in the report on realized profit, Pennsylvania could have a return of more than $244 million over the lifetime of the 8,400 children being helped.

While cost-savings is also a goal for states, the positive outcomes with investment into early learning don’t stop there. The report shows children who participate in Pre-K have fewer behavior problems, better school outcomes, increased reading and math scores, fewer dropouts, less crime, and are less likely to end up in prison. The best thing we can do for our children and our state is to invest in early learning!

Read more about the benefits of Pre-K investment in the report.


UWP Supports Pre-K Investments

High quality Pre-K and Head Start help set kids on a path to success. Those who don’t get to attend these programs are set up to fall behind their peers before they ever step foot in a Kindergarten classroom. And we know that kids from low income families are much less likely to attend Pre-K programs than kids from higher income families. Access and affordability for high quality programs are obstacles for parents of young children in all parts of our state.

While PA has funded Pre-K programs since 2003, we are still not keeping pace with the investments other states are making.  Pennsylvania ranks in the bottom half of per capita investments for preschool aged children to attend comparable publicly funded, high quality Pre-K programs.  PA’s per capita commitment is less than $700.  In 18 other states and the District of Columbia, taxpayers invest more in high quality Pre-K for their kids. This includes many of our neighboring states such as New York, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia. United Way believes we need to invest more in PA’s young learners.

The Pre-K for PA campaign recently released a report highlighting much of the research around Pre-K and how Pennsylvania measures up to other states.   You can view the report here.

Volumes of research has shown the positive impacts that high quality early childhood education has for children over their lifetime. Research has shown that ninety percent of a child’s brain development occurs from birth to age 5. These early years greatly influence educational, behavioral, and economic outcomes throughout a person’s life.  High-quality Pre-K is an essential part of this development, yet 64 percent of Pennsylvania’s 3 and 4 years olds are unable to attend a high-quality Pre-K program.

The United Way network in our state is doing its part to invest donor dollars in high quality early childhood education, but we know we alone cannot meet the needs of all of PA’s kids. This is why we advocate for more state taxpayer dollars to be invested in high quality Pre-K and Head Start programs. We support an increase of $75 million in the 2017-2018 state budget. We know that investing today will lead to a job-ready, educated workforce tomorrow.  It means more children in PA will have the skills necessary to reach for the stars and grab their dreams.  And it’s a smart investment, because for every dollar PA invests in high-quality Pre-K, there is a return of $4 in savings and benefits in the form of social services, reduced crime, and increased earning power.

Educating Pennsylvania’s youth and providing opportunities for growth and success are staples for United Way of Pennsylvania’s advocacy and our mission.  In order to provide these opportunities UWP, along with our United Way network, invest our efforts to bring awareness and funding to Pre-K and Head Start programs throughout the commonwealth.  We are proud to partner with many others who are stepping up for young learners, including business leaders, law enforcement, the military, school administrators, and the Pre-K for PA campaign. We hope that Pennsylvania’s budget for 2017-2018 will provide an additional $75 million for high quality early childhood education.