Harkins named 2020 Early Childhood Education Legislative Champion
Award recognizes decade-long efforts on behalf of state’s at-risk children
ERIE, Oct. 19 – State Rep. Pat Harkins is being honored as a Legislative Champion by state education advocates for his role in founding the bipartisan, bicameral Early Childhood Education Caucus and his decade-long work promoting the caucus’ mission of protecting at-risk children.
Harkins, D-Erie, said he began organizing the caucus 10 years ago after realizing it would take a unified, bipartisan effort to ensure all Pennsylvania children received an equal chance at success.
“I founded the Early Childhood Education Caucus in 2010, with help from former state Representative Phyllis Mundy, because I realized Pennsylvania’s at-risk kids needed a strong, unified voice in Harrisburg to ensure they received the best possible start in life.
“I was able to get just about every member to participate and become active members in the caucus, which was no small feat at the time, with depleted budgets that often ran months long and provided much uncertainty and tension among members and the administration. That we succeeded is a testament to lawmakers on both side of aisle, who understood the importance of the cause.
“I’m extremely honored to be recognized for this achievement. This caucus has lived on and endured, and it provides great support for our state’s most precious resource – the young students who represent our future. We owe it to them to make sure that as they begin their educational experience, they receive every possible opportunity to succeed.”
Harkins added that his wife, Michelle, is deeply involved in Pre-K programs in the Erie region and that he and Michelle are honored to work with the many excellent programs dedicated to giving children the extra boost they need to thrive and excel.
The Early Childhood Education Caucus has set a goal of protecting and preserving state support for quality programs that promote the health and educational development of Pennsylvania’s at-risk children.
Receiving Legislative Champion awards along with Harkins are state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, who is the current chairman of the ECE Caucus; state Sen. Patrick Browne, R-Lehigh; and former state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne.
The awards are being presented by principal partners of Pre-K for PA, Start Strong PA and Childhood Begins at Home on behalf of Early Learning PA – a coalition of advocates supporting young Pennsylvanians from birth to age five. The virtual ceremony will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19 as part of a special session of the 2020 Early Childhood Education Summit.