Morning Must Reads: Cutting Support for Pre-K and Higher Ed & Trouble in Altoona

Topping the headlines this morning: state budget cuts mean fewer providers of high-quality pre-kindergarten in York County.

The YWCA York plans to close two of its early learning centers located in East Manchester and York townships for financial reasons, according to Deb Stock, CEO...

The YWCA York sent a representative to Harrisburg on Tuesday to advocate for state funding, said [Stock].

The proposed state budget cuts Keystone Stars, aimed at improving child-care quality, and Child Care Works, a program that helps low-income families afford child care, by $24.1 million, according to the YWCA York. The proposed budget would also cut Pre-K Counts and state-funded Head Start programs by 5 percent.

The result, according to the YWCA, is children who qualify for a state child care subsidy don't have access to quality programs. Programs struggle from a lack of support, subsidy clients who can't afford increasing co-pays and potential clients who are on a waiting list for subsidies, the organization says...

The YWCA early learning center located at the York County School of Technology served as a training center for students seeking to enter early childhood professions, said Deb Stock, CEO of the YWCA. It's a shame to see that go, because it had been considered an investment in the profession, she said.

"There's a huge need for quality training," she said.

The good people at Demos have a new report on the impact of reductions of state support for higher education.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development is recommending the City of Altoona enter the distressed municipalities program.

Lack of funds has led to the workforce dropping from 255 in 2009 to 229, said Finance Director Omar Strohm.

The police department has shrunk from 74 to 68 officers, with three unavailable last year, because they were in training, said Chief Janice Freehling.

That contributed to an 11 percent increase in serious crime, she said.

It also contributed, oddly, to a 4 percent decrease in less serious crimes — because there were fewer officers to ferret out those crimes, she said.

The department has become "highly reactive," she said.

The Public Works Department has shrunk 20 percent to 56 workers over the last decade, said Director Dave Diedrich.

That means that it takes 36 hours instead of 24 to clear the streets after a major snowstorm, he said.


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