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Every child deserves an equal opportunity to a quality educational foundation that will prepare them to grow, learn, and succeed.
Infant and toddler brains form and grow from the millions of neural connections made every second. At no other time will the brain develop with such speed or intricacy. In fact, all later learning, behavior, and health depend upon this time according to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child.
Today, more than 50% of children birth to age five in Pennsylvania are in the care of someone other than their parent for at least 10 hours per week. While a child’s parent is their first and most important caregiver, it is essential that their family has access to an affordable, high-quality child care program. In Columbia and Montour counties, only 16% (197) of eligible children under the age of five are being served by the Commonwealth’s child care subsidy program. And less than eight percent of those children are enrolled in high quality child care programs.
Inadequate child care costs the Commonwealth $2.5 billion annually in lost earnings for both families and businesses and lost tax revenue to local and state governments according to a report released in April by the PA Early Learning and Investment Commission and Ready Nation PA.
With increased access to affordable, high quality programs, we can ensure the healthy development of our youngest citizens and give their parents peace of mind while they are contributing to the economy with gainful employment.
It’s time to act – 77% of Commonwealth residents support increased funding for child care programs, while 82% believe the government needs to do more to make high-quality programs affordable for families. We urge our legislators to invest $50 million additional state dollars in high-quality child care so every child in Pennsylvania can “start strong”. Additionally, our legislators can also support Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposal to use federal funds to increase capacity. By doing so, an additional 1,000 infants and toddlers will access high-quality child care programs.
The United Way of Columbia and Montour County Early Learning Investment Committee
Tammy Benscoter, First Columbia Bank & Trust
Jeffrey Emanuel, Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber
Fred Gaffney, Columbia Montour Chamber
Bryne Lewis, SEKISUI SPI
Adrienne Mael, United Way of Columbia and Montour County
Holly Morrison, Central Susquehanna Community Foundation
Candy Ryan, Bloomsburg University
Diana Verbeck, Danville Child Development Center
Cassie Weaver, Columbia Child Development Program