HARRISBURG, PA – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today held a roundtable discussion on early childhood education. Following the discussion, Senator Casey toured the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) Child Care Center, a facility the Senator’s late father, Governor Robert P. Casey, Sr. opened 21 years ago.
“As children in Harrisburg and communities across the Commonwealth head back to school, it’s important that we recognize that a child’s ability to learn begins long before they step into a kindergarten classroom,” said Senator Casey. “Research clearly shows that investing in children at an early age by providing high-quality pre-k or child care will pay dividends in terms of better performance in school and beyond. Pennsylvania has become a model for the nation in investing in early learning opportunities for children – and I look forward to sharing the communities experience with my colleagues in Washington.”
Senator Casey was joined by leaders from area school districts, early learning and child care centers and representatives from state advocacy organizations and Pennsylvania state government.
“Investments in early learning programs help children, but they also help our economy by strengthening our workforce and boosting our productivity and our competitiveness,” Senator Casey added. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Washington to move forward programs that support successful initiatives such as those in Pennsylvania.”
Senator Casey has been a leader in supporting proposals to expand and enhance early learning opportunities in Congress.
He introduced the Prepare All Kids Act (S. 839), legislation that would help all children prepare for school by providing high-quality pre-kindergarten education. The Prepare All Kids Act will assist states in providing at least one year of high quality pre-kindergarten to children. The plan calls for a new federal investment to be accompanied by matching funds from the states.
Together with Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Senator Casey introduced the Starting Early, Starting, Right Act (S.1000) in May 2009 to reverse chronic underfunding of child care and increase the availability of high-quality child care to children in low-income and working class families.
Senator Casey also introduced the Child Care Facilities Financing Act of 2009 (S.1002), which would address the critical importance of a quality physical environment for children, an issue that has often been overlooked in the need to ensure greater access to quality care.