News   |   Sign Up   |   A LEVER FOR SCALE


Our lead ally in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, is the statewide nonpartisan broad-based child advocacy organization. Their core strategies include data analysis, policy research, and policymaker education at the state and federal levels. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children focuses on 4 core areas: preventing child abuse and neglect, early care and education, perinatal and children’s health, and K-12 education.


2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 36% (447,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 40% (511,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Level 

The state’s FY 2023-24 budget is still incomplete months after its June 30, 2023 deadline. HB 611 provides for the General Appropriations Act for the 2023-24 fiscal year and was signed by Gov. Shapiro on August 3, 2023. However, Gov. Shapiro line-item vetoed funding included in the bill to establish a school voucher program know as the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS). This line-item veto around the issue of vouchers has created an impasse for other needed pieces of legislation directing how to spend the appropriations, including fiscal code and school code language. As passed, HB 611 reflects $45.074 billion in spending from the General Fund. This represents a $4.28 billion increase from the prior fiscal year (10.5%), after reducing state spending by $1.97 billion through supplemental appropriation adjustments within HB 611. Year over year, $1.68 billion of increased appropriations replaced enhanced federal FMAP funds that offset Medicaid costs.8

Largest Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers) (FY 2021):4

    • Individual Income Taxes: $1,690 per capita
    • Property Taxes: $1,678 per capita

Political Alignment: Divided

Following the 2022 General Election, control of the legislature is split, with Republicans maintaining a wide majority in the Senate while Democrats flipped the House of Representatives but have a narrow 102-101 majority. Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro was elected in 2022.8

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  One

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

During Gov. Shapiro’s first year in office, a divided legislature and disagreement over K-12 education vouchers led to a months-long impasse on the 2023-24 state budget. After years of bipartisan support, pre-k is level-funded in the 2023-24 state budget, largely due to concerns in the legislature on the number of unfilled slots. Advocates noted unfilled slots are largely due to chronic workforce issues in the early care and education space, not because of lack of need for children and families.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

The FY 2023-24 General Appropriations bill (HB 611) contained a total increase of $103.6 million in state funds for child care. Of this, $66.7 million sustain a base rate increase initially accomplished through one-time stimulus funds.

Also contained in the General Appropriations bill (HB 611) was an increase of $15.4 million for Infant and Toddler (Part C) Early Intervention in the Department of Human Services budget. The additional funding will serve more children and sustain a rate increase initially achieved through one-time federal stimulus funding. Additionally, Preschool (Part B) Early Intervention received a $10.4 million increase in the Department of Education budget.

The Department of Health received a new, additional appropriation of $2.3 million in HB 611 to implement recommendations from the Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Further focusing on perinatal health, Gov. Shapiro signed Act 5 of 2023 (formerly SB 262) that adds maternal mortality and morbidity to Pennsylvania’s list of reportable medical events.

Work continues on enacting HB 1058, which would allow kin to be heard by the dependency judge overseeing a foster child’s case. The bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously and has progressed through the Senate Aging & Youth Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee. Final passage on the Senate floor is expected in the near future.

While pre-k funding was disappointingly level-funded for FY 2023-24 due to concerns related to unfilled slots, the Pre-K for PA Campaign has been successful in preventing harmful language to providers from being included in necessary budget code legislation. Initially included in a fiscal code passed by the Senate, the negative amendment would have clawed-back funds from a provider for even one unfilled slot and required monthly reporting mechanisms to the state.

Additionally, Childhood Begins at Home, the state’s home visiting campaign, requested level funding in the FY 2023-24 state budget after a historic investment of $24 million in 2022-23. This year’s General Appropriations bill provides level funding for the Community-Based Family Center line (currently funded at $35.56 million) and the Nurse-Family Partnership line (currently funded at $14.11 million). Moving into FY 2024-25, the campaign is requesting the administration increase funding by $8.4 million.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Partnership for Children, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

K-3 Education

Preschool and Pre-K

Child and
Maternal Health

Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health

Early Intervention (Age 0-3)


Child Welfare

Family Economic Security

Home Visiting

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Data Systems



1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2023 Enacted Budgets, September 20, 2022.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:


More State Demographic Data: