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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: August 6, 2015 12:05 PM
From: Senator Scott E. Hutchinson
To: All Senate members
Subject: Pre-School Education Grant Program
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that will provide additional assistance to low and middle-income parents of pre-school-age children to allow them to enroll their children in public or nonpublic pre-kindergarten programs.

Presently, the great majority of children who benefit from pre-kindergarten programs are enrolled in successful nonpublic programs. Some of those children’s families are helped to some extent by the laudable Pre-K EITC program, but the unmet demand for scholarship assistance under that program remains at an extraordinarily high level.

This legislation would provide grants to help families offset the cost of early childhood education. The individual amounts families can receive would be based off their income and capped at twelve dollars per hour of the child’s attendance. Grant guidelines would be set by the Department of Education. In the legislation there are also requirements and guidelines for preschools to meet in order for their students to be eligible for a grant.

Public school districts are not mandated to offer pre-kindergarten programs, but there is no reason that the Commonwealth should refrain from providing the means for families to afford those programs where school districts are willing to establish them. There is also no reason for the Commonwealth to refrain from taking advantage of the present availability of vibrant and caring nonpublic pre-kindergarten programs that are already operating as a service to the families in their communities.

Therefore, I believe that a State-funded program that allows eligible families to apply for and receive grants that would be used to meet the costs of their children’s attendance at safe, caring and effective public or nonpublic pre-kindergarten programs will go a long way toward leveling the academic playing field and giving a well-deserved boost to responsible and loving parents who want to give their children a better chance for success in school and in life.

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation. If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Nathan Akers in my office at 787-9684 or nakers@pasen.gov.

Introduced as SB980