By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Early childhood education has never been more critical. Research makes it clear that kids who aren’t ready for school don’t catch up. Children from advantaged families, where parents read to their kids and provide quality preschool, are ready for school success.

READ MORE: 14-Year-Old, Samir Jefferson, Shot Nearly 20 Times, Killed While Waiting For SEPTA Bus In North Philadelphia, Police Say

Unfortunately, poverty is more widespread than ever and preschool is unaffordable for many families. Intervention is needed to help children succeed. In Maryland, 90% of kids who enter school ready, read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.

READ MORE: Philadelphia Firefighters Rescue 2 People From Fairmount House Fire

Studies show that 75% of children who don’t read on grade level by then are less likely to read proficiently by 12th grade, and many drop out.

In Pennsylvania, starting in January, PCCY, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, and other prominent non- profits will lead a campaign urging all candidates running for office to make universal preschool for 3 and 4-year-olds a priority.

MORE NEWS: Crash Involving Tractor-Trailer, SUV On Route 130 North In Bordentown Leaves Man Dead, Police Say

Learn more about the campaign and how to become involved at PCCY.org.