May Message from Deb Green
May 4, 2016
All About the Sugar
For over thirty-eight years PIC has prided itself on BOTH the highest quality work with children and families and in having a strong local, state, and national advocacy voice on issues concerning early childhood care and education.
Early childhood is getting attention like never before and we are poised to see some significant policy changes that will have a strong and positive effect for all children and families.
The goal in Philadelphia is to expand high quality pre-kindergarten programs and provide additional access for children of all socio-economic levels. Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) recently released these facts:
- By the time children enter kindergarten, 90% of their brain circuits are set. They form their personalities, social skills, and approaches to learning and problem-solving in response to their earliest experiences.
- Much research shows that a positive, high-quality early learning environment – with skilled teachers – can help a child learn despite stresses in their home and neighborhood.
- Half of Philadelphia’s children start kindergarten without the basic skills they need to succeed.
- Many working families cannot afford the cost of high quality pre-k.
PIC alone currently has 23 children enrolled through the state’s Pre-K Counts program. Our waiting list, however has over 80 children who are eligible for Pre-K Counts, but we just don't have more room.
According to the recent report from the Mayor's Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten, only one in three of Philadelphia’s 42,500 three- and four-year-olds have access to affordable quality pre-k. Mayor Kenney has unveiled a plan to add an additional 25,000 high quality Pre-K Counts slots in Philadelphia.
This goal requires an additional investment of $256 million dollars into the city budget. These additional dollars would also fund 25 community schools and a $300 million investment in neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries.
As you are probably aware, a struggle over the “sugary drink tax” is raging. I have now attended several City Council hearings with many of my early childhood colleagues to support the tax. While we held signs and clapped as people testified in support of the tax, we were greatly outnumbered by representatives from the soda industry, an industry that has already poured more than $2.6 million into the avalanche of misleading ads (it's not a “grocery” tax!) blanketing our airwaves against the tax.
PIC has signed on to a coalition of organizations in support of the tax known as Philadelphian’s for a Fair Future. The need for increased access to quality pre-k is undeniable. One way to achieve this today is through this tax. With all the misinformation being slung, I urge you to learn more about the tax proposal and get involved.
City Council needs only 9 members to support the tax and the vote is expected sometime in June. The next next four weeks is the time to make your voice heard!
We hope that you will join us in doing everything we can to get City Council members to vote for the tax. Here is a listing of all Philadelphia City Council members. In addition to contacting your own City Council member, it is also really important to reach out to the Council-members-at-large.