Only 11% of Lancaster County 3- and 4-year-old children are enrolled in quality, publicly funded Pre-K.* The early years of a child's life are the foundation upon which they can build future success. This means that the children whose parents have the resources to send them to a high-quality Pre-K center have a much stronger education foundation for success in school and life than the other 89% of their peers. Not to mention, the waiting list for Lancaster Early Education Center alone has more than 200 children. In the meantime, the parents of those children scramble to find affordable, reliable childcare for their children. These barriers can be overcome by increasing quality of care and access to that care through informed investment. In fact, every dollar invested in quality early education saves at least $8.60 in increased wages, special education, public assistance, corrections and lost taxes.*
We fight for a Lancaster County where all children enter kindergarten ready to learn. This is just one of Four BOLD Goals that United Way of Lancaster County is striving to accomplish by 2025. Our Collective Impact Partnerships working towards this goal are revolutionizing the early education systems in our communities to ensure that all children have an equal chance to lead happy, fulfilling lives.
Systems Aligned in Learning (SAIL) mentors in-home childcare providers throughout Lancaster County to help them reach a level of quality care that rivals that of a high-quality center. Within this Partnership, personal mentorship, nutrition outreach, mobile early literacy education, and more surround our county's in-home childcare providers -- along with the children and parents they serve -- with a network of support.
Plant the Seed of Learning empowers parents of children up to age 4 to play an active role in the development of their child's brain. Teamed up with local school districts and hospitals, they provide expert-led, no-cost workshops to parents that teach them about intentional play from an early age.
*Kids Count Data Center; PA Depts. of Education, Public Welfare, Child Development Early Learning (2013-2014), Early Childhood Learning, The White House, Education, Early Learning (2013), Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (2013) and The Economics of Early Childhood Investments (December 2014)