Pennsylvania needs to do more to ensure that the “K” in “K-12” is available for all children. Research suggests that full-day kindergarten can help improve language and literacy skills, increase student achievement, enhance social and emotional skill development, and decrease the need for remediation in later years. Access to free, full-day kindergarten also provides a significant economic benefit for families – especially working mothers – by offering a predictable, safe, high-quality learning environment for children.
While enrollments in full-day kindergarten have increased, many children across the Commonwealth still lack access to free full-day kindergarten, creating costs for both families and taxpayers.
- There are an estimated 49,339 children age 5 who are not currently enrolled in school in Pennsylvania.
- An estimated 20,000 children in Pennsylvania served by publicly-funded pre-K programs do not have access to free, full-day kindergarten programs when they turn 5 years old – creating a gap in the momentum gained through high-quality early learning.
- The average cost of child care in Pennsylvania is $15,176, or 28 percent of median household income.
- Nearly two-thirds of families with young children under age 6 in Pennsylvania are in households where all available parents in the labor force, making access to high-quality, full-day education and care essential – and often costly.
- At the state level, Pennsylvania also spends an estimated $25.4 million on kindergarten subsidies for 6,958 eligible children during each school year.
Our resolution urges the Department of Education to conduct a comprehensive study to explore the impacts of providing universal access to free, full-day kindergarten for all 5-year-olds and their families.
- This study would provide a comprehensive look at what it would take to implement universal full-day free kindergarten for all children ages 5 and older, including impacts on children, families, education institutions, and communities.
- Through proposed legislation, PDE will contract with an independent third party to gather feedback and analyze data from a variety of sources, including: Parents and families, School districts, and other community stakeholders
- Findings and recommendations would be submitted to the General Assembly after one year to determine whether Pennsylvania should consider establishing universal access to full-day kindergarten for all children ages 5 and up.