Change Indicator

Publicly Funded, High-Quality Pre-K - Number of children enrolled by program and percent of population in Pennsylvania

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Why This Indicator Matters

We know high-quality pre-k works. Research shows the funding invested in these programs prepares children to enter kindergarten ready to learn and for success in school and in life. Pre-k also strengthens our schools and our commonwealth. It saves taxpayer money in the long term by reducing the need for special education and remedial instruction, increasing the likelihood of graduation and college enrollment, and decreasing dropout rates, crime and incarceration.

High-quality early learning is especially beneficial to children whose educational opportunities are hindered by poverty or other circumstances. When at-risk children benefit from early learning investments like Pre-K Counts, they enter k-12 better prepared and less likely to struggle to keep pace with their peers.

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Definition and Source



Publicly funded, high-quality pre-k: Includes the distinct count of PA Pre-K Counts, Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program and Child Care Works enrollments in Keystone STARS 3 and 4; Head Start; and school district pre-k.

Percentages represent total child population ages 3 to 4 served.

Early Head Start enrollments are excluded since the age is not the pre-kindergarten targeted population of ages 3 and 4 years.

Data Source

Federal Office of Head Start (prior to 2012), Pennsylvania Head Start Association, Head Start grantees, and PA Departments of Education and Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning. Decennial Census.

Population estimates are provided by the Pennsylvania State Data Center and Pennsylvania Department of Health.


Prior to 2013-14, Head Start figures designated the number of slots available, not the number of children enrolled.  Throughout the year, multiple children could use one slot.

Beginning with 2013-14 data,
   - the Head Start category only includes Federal Head Start data
   - the Pre-K Counts category is no longer used
   - the unduplicated count of children in Pre-K Counts, Head Start - State, and Child Care Works in Keystone STAR 3 or 4 providers was added.  This data is not available for prior years.

NOTE: The 2015-16 county totals do not compare to the Path Forward Report issued in December 2016. The numbers in this table are unduplicated at the county level; whereas, the Path Forward report is based on enrollment within each facility.

Data not available for 2017-18.

S = Suppressed.

Last Updated

April 2023