SCRANTON, Pa., Nov. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel and Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Ted Dallas today made the case for continued investment in early care and education as the route to future success. Governor Wolf's 2016-17 budget provided an additional $200 million in basic education funding, as well as a $30 million increase for early childhood education, that preserves the number of admissions slots for proven early childhood education programs like Pre-K Counts and state-funded Head Start. It also includes a $20 million increase for special education, a more than $10 million increase for Early Intervention. "Improving early childhood educational opportunities for children, especially in the most disadvantaged communities, is an investment with guaranteed returns - both fiscally, and most importantly, in the lives of thousands of young people," said Wetzel, speaking at an event at Marywood University. "Investment in pre-k education is critical to ensuring that today's children do not become tomorrow's inmates." Studies show that children who participate in high-quality pre-kindergarten perform better in school, graduate at higher rates, and earn more throughout their working lives compared to peers that do not have access to early learning programs. "We want to ensure that all Pennsylvania children, regardless of background, have a chance to develop, grow, and learn critical skills that will lay the groundwork needed to be successful for the rest of their lives," said Dallas. "We can invest in our young children now to help build the skills they need for success in school and beyond, or pay the public costs of remediation, public assistance, and corrections later when they don't reach their potential. I'd much rather invest in success than pay the public costs later." Additionally, children who were previously enrolled in Pre-K Counts outperform their economically disadvantaged peers in third-grade math and reading.