Early Learning

Supporting Early Learning for Children

A quality education from early childhood through college is of paramount importance for the future of Pennsylvania and our country. Study after study shows that investments in enhancing learning opportunities for our youngest children are absolutely critical to a child’s success. Senator Casey knows that when a child learns more earlier in life then that child will earn more later in our workforce. These investments are also critical to our nation’s continued economic strength. Unfortunately, existing high-quality early learning programs reach just a fraction of the children and families who need them the most. Ensuring all families have access to high quality early learning is a complex problem and Senator Casey believes we need a continuum of policies to solve it.

  • Senator Casey introduced the Child Care Access to Resources for Early-learning (Child CARE) Act, which would provide grants to states to expand access to high-quality child care for families with children under age four who live at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
  • Senator Casey introduced the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit Enhancement Act, which would expand the scope of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, allowing families with an adjusted gross income up to $120,000 to take advantage of the full credit amount.
  • Senator Casey introduced the Prepare All Kids Act, which would provide at least one year of voluntary high quality pre-kindergarten, with a focus on children from low-income families and children with special needs. He is also a cosponsor of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which would fund preschool for four-year-old children from families earning incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level and encourage states to spend their own funds to support preschool for young children with family incomes above that income level.
  • Senator Casey profoundly shaped the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2015 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. While primarily dealing with K-12 education, ESSA includes several strong provisions for early childhood education pushed by Senator Casey. It provides for newly authorized Preschool Development Grants, a competitive program for states to improve the quality of and access to early childhood education for four year olds in preschool.
  • Senator Casey led the fight in ESSA to reauthorize the Ready to Learn program. Ready to Learn supports the creation of effective education resources that are distributed by local public television stations on television, online, and through mobile apps to build the math and reading skills of children between the ages of two and eight, especially those from low-income families.
  • Senator Casey introduced the Continuum of Learning Act, which strengthens connections between existing early learning programs and the elementary grades by helping educators from early childhood education programs and elementary schools work together so children have a successful continuity of learning and development that sets a strong foundation for future learning. Much of this legislation was included in ESSA.
  • Senator Casey consistently leads Senate efforts to appropriate robust funding for early childhood education and care programs.


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