FOR MANY parents in the workforce, particularly those raising children on their own, the cost of quality child care can be out of reach - and high-quality child care, which is part of early-childhood education, is even pricier. According to a report from Public Citizens for Children and Youth, the average cost of such care for two children was more than $19,000 in 2007.

The state Department of Public Welfare provides subsidies for low-income parents, but thousands of Philadelphia-area families are stuck on a waiting list. That translates into more than 1,600 children from the city and 7,850 children statewide waiting for benefits.

Gov. Rendell has proposed increasing the number of available slots by 2,600. And state Sen. Mike Stack and state Rep. Tony Payton have proposed $9 million more to cut the waiting list in half. That's a worthwhile investment. Children who receive high-quality child care are more likely to graduate from high school, find steady employment and stay out of prison. And researchers estimate the public saves $4 to $17 on future costs for every dollar spent on early-childhood education.

Elected officials in Harrisburg should support this worthy program. *