Governor Tom Wolf’s Ready to Start Task Force, established in September to develop a four-year framework of strategies to address health, human services, and education policy for infants and toddlers age zero to three in Pennsylvania, announced its key themes and initial findings today.
“The Ready to Start Task Force findings are focused on our youngest Pennsylvanians and their families,” Gov. Wolf said. “Because we know that a child’s brain grows faster from birth to three than at any other point in their lives, this work is truly shaping the future of our state.”
The key themes and initial findings were developed following six regional listening sessions with stakeholders representing health care, human services, education, research, businesses and employers, foundations, and research organizations. These initial findings include a need to:
- Ensure access to high-quality care for all children and families, especially those with the greatest needs;
- Improve system quality and capacity;
- Improve coordination and alignment of services and supports;
- Prioritize outreach, education, and awareness, including building meaningful partnerships with parents, families, and communities;
- Address the needs of the whole child and whole family through comprehensive supports, including those for mental and behavioral health;
- Help infants and toddlers get a strong start for school through early literacy and other evidence-based programs.
Read the full content of the initial findings here.
These initial findings will be used to create a final report for the development of a four-year framework for advancing the well-being of Pennsylvania’s youngest residents and their families. The report is expected to be completed in early 2019.
The Ready to Start Task Force was led by six co-chairs appointed by the Governor: Jodi Askins, Executive Director of PennAEYC; Maureen Cronin, Executive Director of The Arc of Pennsylvania; Nyanda Finley De Santos, parent and Director of Family and Community Engagement at Community Services for Children’s Head Start Program; Janet Haas, M.D., Chair of the William Penn Foundation Board of Directors; Dr. Valerie Kinloch, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education; and David Rubin, MD, MSCE, Director of Population Health Innovation and PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Members of the Wolf Administration who supported the work of the Task Force include Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health; Teresa Miller, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services; Suzann Morris, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning; and Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
Task Force co-chairs hosted six regional roundtable listening discussions from October through mid-December with members of the Administration and stakeholders. Approximately 150 stakeholders representing early childhood care and education providers, health care practitioners, research organizations, workforce development, state and local government, foundations, employers, and community-based organizations participated in the sessions.
At each regional listening session, stakeholders were asked to provide feedback focused on three guiding questions:
- How can we improve health outcomes of infants, toddlers, and their families?
- How can we strengthen the home environment for infants, toddlers, and their families?
- How can we prepare infants and toddlers for future school success?
In addition to these face-to-face Task Force meetings, the governor invited the public to share their ideas and thoughts through an online feedback form. The form is still available to those who wish to weigh in on the priorities and key themes.
“The Ready to Start Task Force complements my administration’s robust agenda for improving the lives of all children, which includes access to high-quality pre-K through 12 education and access to health and human services programs and supports,” Gov. Wolf said. “I am pleased to see the progress this group has made in developing these key themes and initial findings and I look forward to reviewing a full task force report when it is completed in the very near future.”