By Mike Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Improved access to quality early childhood education was the focus of a panel discussion this morning at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Researchers spoke about affordability and some of the other challenges facing the next step in learning.

This is the third installment in a four-part series about pre-K education.

“The main takeaway is that the provision of early childhood education is difficult, expensive, and essential.”

Elliot Weinbaum with the William Penn Foundation says a lot of the discussion is about making improvements to preschool programs.

“The focus on quality is going to get us the outcome that we need,” said Weinbaum.

Weinbaum supports Mayor Kenney’s push for citywide pre-K because he feels it’s going to save money in the long run.

“This is an investment in the future. When we make this investment in young children, we actually have to spend less when they get older,” said Weinbaum.

Still, cost is a major obstacle and there are still a lot of questions about how to pay for it.