In a city with more than 2,000 child-care and preschool facilities, just 15 percent are considered "high quality" by education advocates. And information about them is tough to come by.
A coalition of local nonprofits on Wednesday launched a Web tool to attempt to make it easier for parents to find strong programs in their area.
William R. Hite Jr., Philadelphia School District superintendent, hailed the new resource, which he said could help spur more high-quality early childhood education options.
"If we could do only one thing to change the trajectory of student outcomes, it is this thing," Hite said at a news conference.
The Philadelphia School Partnership, formed to raise $100 million to expand and create strong educational options, is behind GreatPhillySchools.org, an existing Web tool that aggregates information about K-12 schools. The organization, in conjunction with city leaders and other nonprofits, recently added the early childhood education piece after eight months of work.
To qualify for listing on the site, centers must meet one of several benchmarks. Just over 300 met the standard.
"We simply don't have enough high-quality programs in Philadelphia to serve all the families who need them," said Sharon Easterling, executive director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children. "The pickings are slim."
Eva Gladstein, executive director at the Mayor's Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, said the problem must be addressed, "but we see this Web portal as being an important first step."