HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced a new coordinated effort to enhance educational opportunities for Pennsylvania’s youngest children by creating the Office of Child Development and Early Learning. At the Governor’s direction, the new office brings together all aspects of early learning and development for children ages birth through five years old in the departments of Education and Public Welfare.
“Today is an exciting day for Pennsylvania’s youngest children,” said Rendell. “The earlier we can set our young children on a path to learning, the better. Our goal is to improve their chance for success and set them on a course for success.
“The launching of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning will significantly improve the educational life of the youngest Pennsylvanians. We expect this office will coordinate all aspects of a young person’s experience. When that child enters kindergarten, he or she will be better prepared for a successful school career than ever before.”
Over the course of a six-month transition, this new Office of Child Development and Early Learning will incorporate the Department of Education’s early childhood programs, Head Start, school pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten and preschool Early Intervention program, as well as the child care, early intervention and family support programs currently associated with the Office of Child Development in the Department of Public Welfare.
“Our effort will not only benefit our children, but it will create an effective model of how collaborating government agencies can create better results for Pennsylvania’s citizens,” said Rendell. “In the last four years, we have invested in practices that are proven to enhance student achievement. The Office of Child Development and Early Learning is an innovative way to bring together resources, expertise and staff to maximize the commonwealth’s impact on early childhood.”
“At the Pennsylvania Department of Education, we are always looking at innovative ways to prepare our children for their elementary and secondary education. The new office will elevate early childhood learning as a top priority of school readiness strategies and result in more children being better prepared for their first day of school,” said Secretary of Education Gerald L. Zahorchak.
“This is a great example of breaking down barriers and finding ways for programs to integrate their services and create partnerships,” said Secretary of Public Welfare Estelle B. Richman. “Research has taught us that the earliest years of childhood are critically important to children’s long-term development and their success as adults. This initiative recognizes that a child’s earliest challenges may manifest themselves in many settings, including schools, homes, early learning or health care facilities.”