Company, we employ over 250 employees in Blair County. As such, we possess a large stake in making our region a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
And something I know would provide our community with a bright future is helping first‐time, at‐risk parents learn the skills they need to raise healthy children who have more opportunities to succeed.
85% of the brain is developed by age three. And while many children are fortunate enough to be born into loving, financially secure households, about 73% of Blair County children are born into economically at‐risk households, and a significant portion of those children are also born to young single mothers with less than a high school education.
Obviously these children are not born with the same opportunities as children from more affluent families. Research shows that the average three year‐old from a low‐income family
demonstrates an active vocabulary of about 500 words, while the average three year‐old from a professional family demonstrates an active vocabulary of over 1000 words. And this disparity only increases as children grow older.
However, home‐visiting programs like Early Head Start, Healthy Families America, Parents as Teachers, and Nurse Family Partnership provide support to low‐income families to promote
healthy pregnancies, enhance the development and early literacy of young children, and promote healthy family functioning.
Studies of various home‐visiting programs have shown positive impacts on children’s cognitive development and behavior, higher grade point averages and achievement scores at age 9, and
higher graduation rates from high school. A study conducted on the Healthy Families New York program found that, in first grade, children who participated in the program were nearly twice as likely as other at‐risk children to be able to follow directions, complete work on time, or work cooperatively with others.
However, funding for home‐visiting programs has not been increased to keep up with inflation, nor to serve more children, in too many years.
That is why I support Governor Wolf’s proposed increased funding for home‐visiting programs in this year’s state budget. His proposed increase will help more than 1,900 additional at‐risk children get a good start and succeed later on in life – thus strengthening the workforce, the tax base, and the future economy.
About 65% of children born in Blair County will stay right here when they become adults. I urge you to ask your state legislators to support home‐visiting programs in this year’s state budget to help more of these children become contributing members of society who continue to make our region a great place to live.