Every parent knows that the first five years of a child’s life are the foundation of lifelong success. New York City Public Schools is committed to making sure that all our youngest New Yorkers and their families are fully supported with a bright start and ready for a bold future. It has never been a better time to be a parent of a young child in New York City. With the improvements we are making, I invite you to enroll your child in one of our many diverse early childhood programs built to meet your family’s needs and preferences. 

As chancellor, I made it a focus to ensure that we are delivering a high-quality early childhood education that gives every New York City child a fair shot at that bright future—no matter your ZIP code, race or anything else. This vision is made possible in partnership with our community-based organizations, district schools and countless educators, all who have who selflessly devoted their lives and careers to our youngest learners and their families. 

The previous administration is to be commended for its commitment to early childhood programming. Upon becoming chancellor, it was my responsibility to assess this and other initiatives we inherited. I learned some hard truths about the state of our early education program. Many families were placed on waitlists, while there were empty seats in neighborhoods in other parts of the city. I discovered that 3K and Pre-K for All was not truly “for all.” These programs failed our children with disabilities whose families waited years for equal access to education. We heard from the dedicated people providing many of these critical services that our bureaucracy has served as a barrier to providing optimal services for children. 

So, we went to work to fix the systemic issues and build equity throughout.

I am most proud of the work Mayor Adams, my team and this entire administration did to make early childhood education genuinely inclusive for all of New York City’s children—specifically those with disabilities. Recently, we announced our investment in an expansion of special education access across our portfolio. Come spring, I am proud to share that this expansion is expected to open enough preschool seats to serve every single preschool child with a disability across the five boroughs. 

We are actively working to transform the system to meet the needs of families from birth to 5 years old. We heard numerous families vocalize a need for more infant and toddler seats in their communities. A truly universal system listens to the families it serves and prioritizes their needs. That is why we have already moved more than 600 seats to areas in need and converted approximately 500 unfilled seats to infant and toddler seats, increasing hours of care and ensuring year-round programming to better accommodate the schedules of working families. 

We are not stopping there. New York City Public Schools are continuing to shift approximately 40,000 empty seats across our city to areas that will better serve children across the five boroughs. 

This work is only possible with our partners; we are committed to making this system work better for the community-based organizations that families have relied on for early childhood education for years. We intentionally choose to work with local, community-supported organizations. These are the people who know these neighborhoods and the children who play there, and have a talent for getting stuff done—they are your neighbor, aunt or brother who have dedicated their lives to service. 

Few realize the impact the rapid Pre-K expansion has had on these providers. We are building an infrastructure that empowers the leadership of our community-based organizations, elevates their voice to the forefront, removes bureaucratic barriers, and engages in a supportive and meaningful partnership to make sure every program is high-quality. 

We have done a tremendous amount of work in a short amount of time, and there is still so much more to do. That is not a challenge, but an opportunity. We want to give New Yorkers an early childhood program that works for all and that they can be proud to say their child attended.For more information about New York City Public Schools’ early childhood program or to enroll your child today, visit schools.nyc.gov/3k or schools.nyc.gov/prek.

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  1. All our schools must have music teachers and all our politicians, parents, administrators and early childhood teachers must understand the importance of music for brain development etc. Next close the million word gap by implementing the LENA foundation’s program for all 0-4 yrs.

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