Let's build success for our youngest residents

House and Senate Republicans must get serious when talking about state investments in our youth

This week, district attorneys, nurses and other children's advocates from across Pennsylvania were joined by a few Senate Republicans to call for more state investments in preventing child abuse and neglect.

 

The senators should start by talking to their colleagues on the other side of the Capitol.

 

A budget bill written and passed entirely by Republicans in the House of Representatives earlier this year severely underfunds important services for younger Pennsylvanians, including home visiting programs that have been shown to reduce child abuse and neglect.

 

A $9 million increase for home-visiting services that Gov. Wolf and House Democrats have advocated for in Pennsylvania's 2017-18 budget was not included in the Republican version -- House Bill 218.

 

Republicans also left out proposed increases to help give more working parents access to safe, affordable child care, and severely cut proposed investments for pre-K and Head Start.

 

The D.A.s, senators and other officials at Tuesday's news conference agreed that programs like Nurse-Family Partnerships, Parents as Teachers, Healthy Families America and Early Head Start prevent child abuse and neglect and give more children access to a good education, health care and more.

 

Investments in these and other programs aimed at giving kids a safe, healthy and successful start in life are also supported by Pennsylvania's police chiefs and sheriffs associations as a way to prevent future crime and save taxpayers money.

 

There's a strong consensus growing in Pennsylvania -- regardless of party -- that investments in ensuring our youngest residents' safety and success make sense.

 

Yet Republican leaders in the House don't seem to be on board yet.

 

We all need to work together during negotiations on the final budget to convince them of the wisdom of building success for all our kids in school and later in life, and the folly of their arbitrary and damaging cuts.