Demographic and Family Differences in Use of Early Childhood Care and Education in Pennsylvania

A 2002 Baseline


  • Marsha Weinraub
  • Anne B. Shlay
  • Anita T. Kochanoff



Studies show that Pennsylvania ranks below the national average in the percentage of preschool children enrolled in center-based programs. This is important because center-based care has been shown to better prepare children for entry into school. In 2002, we examined demographic and family influences in the use of early childhood care and education (ECCE) in a statewide random sample of 1005 Pennsylvania families with children under 6 years of age, providing a baseline of ECCE in Pennsylvania during a time when the state offered no public funding specifically for preschool. Our findings suggest that Pennsylvania children, particularly those from less educated and lower income families, may not have been well prepared to enter school in 2002. Policy changes since 2002 are described, and the likelihood of these policies to better prepare Pennsylvania's children to enter school ready to learn are considered.