Franklin County Stresses Importance Of Early Childhood Education

Pictured (from left): Franklin County Commissioner Chairman Dean Horst; Jennifer Hawbecker, Franklin County early intervention program specialist; Carolyn Clouser, First Start Partnership community outreach director; Amy Pinkerton, First Start Partnership early childhood workforce coordinator; and Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski

CHAMBERSBURG- The Franklin County Commissioners have recognized April 2024 as the Month of the Young Child. In doing so, the commissioners join First Start Partnerships for Children and Families, Inc. and other area organizations in highlighting the crucial role early childhood educators play in the healthy development of America’s youth.

“Caring for and supporting our children is a vital part of investing in Franklin County’s future,” said Franklin County Commissioner Chairman Dean Horst. “It’s up to all of us to do whatever we can to ensure our kids get the best possible start in life so they can grow up to be happy, healthy and productive members of our community.”

The first years of a child’s life are critical to laying the foundation for all future learning. A child’s cognitive, physical, social, emotional and language development are dependent on positive interactions with adults and peers as well as on their environment. Participating in high-quality early care and education helps children build strong developmental foundations during the years of greatest brain development. As a result, children are better prepared for school and are more likely to succeed later in life.

Franklin County is home to over 9,000 children aged 0-4 years old, and 70% of their parents are working parents, which emphasizes the need for child care at a young age. While there are 61 child care providers in Franklin County, only 10% are considered to be “high quality,” as defined by Keystone STARS, Pennsylvania’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. Only four other counties in Pennsylvania have a lower rating than Franklin County. Additionally, statewide data shows that 27% of Pennsylvania’s parents quit a job because of child care problems, and 38% have turned down new job offers because of issues with child care.

To have quality early childhood education requires skilled, educated and consistent early childhood educators who ensure that children have the early experiences they need for a strong foundation. By recognizing April as Month of the Young Child, the Franklin County Commissioners are urging all residents to support efforts that increase children’s and families’ access to high-quality early childhood education and to support those working in the early care and education profession.

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