RELEASE: Within Reach Campaign and the PFT Join Mayor Jim Kenney in Philadelphia to Call for Quality, Affordable Pre-K and Child Care
Philadelphia — Working families across Pennsylvania face hard realities: More than 17,000 Philadelphia children do not have access to quality, affordable pre-K, and 68 percent of Pennsylvania children younger than age 6 have both parents in the workforce. Today, the WithinReach Campaign and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, or PFT, joined Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) to discuss how states and cities—like Philadelphia—are leading the way on policies for working families, but they still need a major public investment to put quality pre-K and child care within reach for all working families. As Mayor Kenney remarked at today’s news conference, the presidential primary next week is a key opportunity for Pennsylvanians to hold all candidates accountable for doing so.
This morning, Mayor Kenney, the Within Reach campaign, and the PFT visited CORA Services Early Years at LaSalle University, a Keystone STAR 4 Accredited program; the Keystone STARS program recognizes quality early education programs in Pennsylvania that exceed state health and safety certification requirements.
In advance of the 2016 elections, the Center for American Progress launched the WithinReach Campaign to elevate and create momentum around the need to put quality, affordable pre-K and child care within reach for kids, families, and the economy. Ahead of the Pennsylvania presidential primaries on April 26, the WithinReach Campaign is urging all candidates to make high-quality child care and pre-K a top priority in the national debate.
“We need quality pre-K now so that every child has the tools they need to succeed no matter where they live,” said Jim Kenney, mayor of Philadelphia. “We’re proposing to expand access to quality pre-K in Philly, but cities can’t do it alone. As we’re having a debate about our national priorities, early education needs to be at the forefront.”
“Expanding access to quality child care and early education would improve child outcomes and ensure that parents can stay in the workforce,” said Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for policy at the Center for American Progress. “Mayor Kenney is doing all he can to expand quality pre-K programs in Philadelphia, but we need our presidential candidates in both parties to tell us what they will do to make this a national priority. Every day that we fail to invest in preschool, more children fall behind. It’s costing our country a fortune—and millions of children their future.”
“Not only is pre-K a moral imperative because of the impact it has on our children, but also because of its potential for quality, family sustaining jobs. Despite the crucial nature of their work, child care workers are among the lowest paid in the country and seldom receive benefits,” said Hillary Linardopoulos, staff representative at PFT. “So, to candidates running on both sides of the aisle, asking for our support in advance of next week’s primary, I simply ask of them: instead of talking about building walls—let’s talk about investing in children and their families.”
In 2015, CAP released a new proposal that would provide a High-Quality Child Care Tax Credit to help low-income and middle-class families afford child care. The proposal would expand child care access to roughly 6 million children younger than age 5 in the United States, increasing the current service level more than fourfold while supporting financial security for working families. In 2013, CAP released a proposal to make high-quality preschool universally accessible to all 3- and 4-year-old children.
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