Half the young children in southeastern Pennsylvania live in Philadelphia. The majority of them are considered “at risk” because of economic circumstances and many enter kindergarten without the basic skills they need to become proficient readers by 3rd grade. Children First monitors and advocates with and for the School District of Philadelphia, the largest pre-k provider in the city. Children First provides resources that bring multiple stakeholders together to solve problems, including a report on Philadelphia’s Early Intervention System, and is a founding partner of the Pre-K for PA Campaign to make high-quality pre-K programs available to every three-and four-year old child in Pennsylvania by 2022.
Recently Children First has mobilized Philadelphians to make resources available to support universal pre-k for all children entering the public school system. Toward that end, Children First:
- Helped get a question on the ballot in May 2015 to form a Commission on Universal Pre-K. It passed with 80% of the vote, one of the most popular ballot measures ever;
- Made Pre-K a key issue in the 2015 Mayoral race;
- Helped drive the process that drew citizens to hearings all over the city, and issued a report recommending a model for a new city program;
- Mobilized support for Mayor Kenney’s 2016 budget plan, which required passing a sweetened beverage tax to fund Pre-K, education and recreation projects;
- Helped organize 20 help sessions for child care providers interested in expanding and providing seats for PHL Pre-K
- Organized child-serving organizations to sign the Amicus Brief supporting the tax against the court challenge; and
- Continues to advocate and defend the soda tax and educate the City’s delegation in Harrisburg about its role in closing the gap in the supply of high quality pre-k.