Governor releases proposed budget for 2017-18, including increases for early childhood education
On Tuesday, February 7, Governor Wolf released his proposed budget for 2017-18. Watch his budget address and download budget documents
from the Governor's website
"I'm offering a budget proposal that represents a responsible solution to our deficit challenge - and a different approach from the way things have been done in Harrisburg for almost a generation. At the same time, my budget protects the investments we've made in education, in senior services, in fighting the scourge of opioids, and in growing Pennsylvania's economy."
Here are some highlights.
The proposed budget would provide:
- $9 million increased investment to serve approximately 1,700 additional families in evidence-based home visiting;
- $10 million increased investment in Child Care Works to serve approximately 1,800 additional children from the Child Care Works waiting list;
- maintained investment in Keystone STARS to serve approximately 1,000 additional children;
- $65 million increased investment in Pre-K Counts to serve at least 7,400 additional children;
- $10 million increased investment in Head Start Supplemental to serve at least 1,030 additional children; and
- $11 million increased investment in Preschool Early Intervention to serve approximately 1,100 additional children.
Proposed Supports for Keystone STARS programs
As part of
Keystone STARS Revisioning
, OCDEL and stakeholders involved in the process want to make sure that limited resources are being used as effectively as possible to provide quality early learning opportunities especially to at-risk children.
As a result, OCDEL is proposing the following adjustments to financial supports:
- Maintain funding for teacher higher education scholarships (T.E.A.C.H. and Rising STARS Tuition Assistance) and Education and Retention Awards;
- Maintain STAR 2 tiered reimbursement and merit awards;
- Increase tiered reimbursements for STAR 3 and 4 programs by 23 percent by shifting resources from merit awards. By shifting these resources to tiered reimbursement, providers will have more flexibility with no grant paperwork (saving time and money). With the 12-month redetermination of children receiving Child Care Works, providers will also experience more stability and less paperwork serving these children. Regional Keys can also direct more resources to supporting quality improvement; and the commonwealth can provide more equitable supports for at-risk children.
The reimbursement gap to cover the cost of quality early learning widens at the higher STAR 3 and 4 levels. Restrictions on merit awards can make it challenging to offset those costs, especially retaining qualified staff.
The current merit award structure has not resulted in a significant higher percentage of children receiving Child Care Works enrolling in Keystone STAR 3 and 4 facilities. In fact, there is such an inequitable distribution of resources for at-risk children that programs serving the minimum percentage of at-risk children receive more than ten times the amount per at-risk child than programs serving 90-100 percent enrolled children with IEPs or receiving Child Care Works subsidy.
More information will be provided during the Revisioning process. Visit the
PA Key website