Philadelphia Soda Tax, Early Childcare, and PolicyMap
Philadelphia recently became the first major city to institute a soda tax, with the objective of increasing funding for early childhood education. The 1.5 cent per ounce tax is expected to raise $91 million per year with the aim of significantly increasing access to pre-K.
PolicyMap has been active in helping inform policy on early childhood education. Last week, we hosted a Mapchats Webinar on data on childcare, and we helped create Childcare Map, a tool for researching and exploring childcare resources in Philadelphia. We then made a similar tool, Newark Child Care Map, for Newark, New Jersey.
With the soda tax and planned pre-K expansion, there’s been much talk in Philadelphia about how to best increase pre-K access. Janet Haas, the board chair of the William Penn Foundation, with whom PolicyMap worked to create Childcaremap.org, recently wrote a column for the Philadelphia Inquirer addressing this opportunity, and the challenges it puts in place. She mentions Childcare Map as one possible solution:
The city can build on the extensive work of the Universal Pre-K Commission and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. to prioritize investments in strategic ways that maximize the impact of every dollar, focusing on areas of greatest need and where the greatest number of people can benefit. Extensive information is available to help maximize the impact of public and private investments through tools such as childcaremap.org, which indicates where there are shortages of child-care centers. The Penn Child Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania has analyzed data to identify areas of the city where children are most at risk of later academic challenges. A strong future depends on putting limited resources to work in the most strategic ways.
We’re excited to be a part of this next step in Philadelphia education.