United Way of Bucks County announced a significant expansion of its Pre-K Counts program, offering greater access to free high-quality early childhood education countywide. Pre-K Counts provides early education to 3- and 4-year-old children at no cost to eligible families.
Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning awarded United Way $4.49 million to expand Pre-K Counts. This will allow roughly 450 children countywide to benefit from free, quality Pre-K — a 44 percent increase from the 2022-23 school year. The program will be offered at 16 early education sites in Bucks County.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be bringing Pre-K Counts to more families,” said Kristi Moreno, impact director for Pre-K education at United Way of Bucks County. “This funding allows us to extend our reach even further, setting a greater number of children in our community up for lifelong success.”
Expansion sites were added strategically, according to Moreno. She said, “We want Pre-K to be accessible both in terms of money and distance. We tried to be sure that no family would be more than about 15 minutes from a United Way Pre-K Counts partner.”
United Way Pre-K Counts slots are now available in Bensalem, Bristol, Churchville, Doylestown, Holland, Langhorne, Kintnersville, Morrisville, Penndel, Southampton and Quakertown.
The nonprofit noted that the increased funding comes at a critical time. According to the United for ALICE research center, the number of households that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed is increasing. About 7 percent of Bucks County households are below the poverty line, but another 27 percent are now ALICE, an increase of 12.5 percent over the past two years.
“Pre-K Counts is absolutely crucial for ALICE. It helps kids enter kindergarten ready to learn, but it also helps more Bucks County parents get to work. This is a win for kids, parents, employers, K-12 schools and our whole community,” said Marissa Christie, president and CEO at United Way of Bucks County.
Due to the increase in slots, United Way is now accepting additional applications for the 2023-24 school year, but they must be filled quickly to remain in Bucks County. Interested community members should visit uwbucks.org/prekhelp as soon as possible.