For Children With or Without Special Needs, The Wait for Pre-K Is Over

  |   MEDIA

120 additional families in Far Northeast Philadelphia now have access to free, inclusive, high-quality preschool

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Adam Hymans – 215.796.7759, ahymans@spininc.org

 

MARCH 29, 2016, PHILADELPHIA, PA – Out of 2500 early childhood education centers in the city of Philadelphia, only 180 meet the state requirements necessary to offer a high quality pre-K program. SPIN, a human services organization in the Far Northeast section of Philadelphia, operates three such successful centers and after a six month delay due to the 2015-2016 PA Budget impasse, has finally opened its fourth. Parents, state legislators, and a choir of children gathered on Tuesday to cut the ribbon on this colorful, state-of-the-art pre-K facility in the Parkwood neighborhood.

 

Over 40 families have waited anxiously for the opening since the Fall of 2015 and 120 families in the neighborhood now have access to the free pre-K as part of Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed expansion across the state. Far Northeast Philadelphia is one of several “quality deserts”— sections of the city with critical shortages of quality pre-K slots identified by the Mayor’s Commission on Universal PreK and the Reinvestment Fund. The School District of Philadelphia contracted with trusted providers to expand the number of slots in these underserved neighborhoods, with additional support from the Fund for Quality, a program of the William Penn Foundation and The Philadelphia Health Management Corporation. While 2015-2016 budget negotiations stalled in Harrisburg, the School District had no authorization to move forward with the expansion, placing SPIN and families in a holding pattern for half of the school year. After Governor Wolf released emergency funding to school districts with his spending plan in late December, SPIN and their community partners worked quickly to prepare the facility, staff and families for a Spring opening. “We are so excited to be opening our newest high quality preschool in the Parkwood community,” says elated SPIN CEO Kathy Brown-McHale, who testified about the importance of universal pre-K before the Mayor’s Commission in February, “SPIN is so privileged to be a partner in the healthy development of these children’s lives.”

 

As a longtime provider of supports to people with autism and developmental disabilities, SPIN was uniquely positioned to provide an optimal learning experience to children with and without developmental delays. “SPIN is a wonderful educational institution that I am proud to have expand into my district, “ says PA State Representative Martina White (R) of the 170th legislative district, a strong advocate in the PA House, “The new facility and pre-K classrooms will give kids, especially those with special needs, an opportunity to learn some of the basic lessons they need as they reach school age.” More than 20% of the children in SPIN’s Pre-K program have special needs, more than many other pre-K programs.

 

Bipartisan support among the legislators in SPIN’s district has been crucial for the program. “I am truly pleased,” says PA State Representative Michael Driscoll (D) of the 173rd District, “to participate in the opening ceremony for an inclusive and top quality Pre-K run by a well respected and established community provider such as SPIN.”

 

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About SPIN, Inc.
SPIN (pron. “Spin,” no acronym) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to provide the highest quality services to people of all ages with Autism and intellectual/developmental disability. SPIN is also a leading provider of inclusive, early childhood education. SPIN believes that everyone deserves to achieve to their full potential and to live a life of possibilities. SPIN is an equal opportunity employer, with over 1,000 team members from diverse backgrounds, and an equal opportunity service provider, serving over 3500 people every year in Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley. SPIN has been named a Top Workplace by Philly.com for seven consecutive years.