Governor Cuomo’s announcement of the recipients of $340 million in pre-kindergarten funding today, outside of New York City, is a step in the right direction providing new full day opportunities to 37,000 children across the state. While it supports major expansion of full day in New York City, it leaves the rest of the state with far too few resources to meet the needs of even the most at risk children and far from providing universal coverage.
Only 53 of the more than 677 school districts received any funding to expand full day pre-K services. Districts across the state indicated that the year long delay in reimbursement and lack of assured long term funding made it extremely difficult for them to make a wise business decision for their district to expand pre-K services.
The Ready for K Campaign has worked with advocates across the state to promote robust and reliable funding for a high quality Pre-K program that will give children the early start they deserve preparing them for college and career. We commend the State’s positive step on pre-K and urge the Governor and the legislature to improve and expand this program so that next year we will not leave our four-year-olds behind.
“As early childhood professionals we know,” said Nancy Kolben, Executive Director, Center for Children’s Initiatives, “valuable high quality Pre K is to our youngest learners. Far too many children in New York State lack this opportunity and we will not succeed in improving outcomes for children unless we continue to expand and strengthen this important investment.”
“Governor Cuomo has repeatedly spoken the value of prekindergarten and his plan to get universal, full-day Pre-K across the State,” said Lauren Tobias, Director of Policy, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. “As part of that plan, Governor Cuomo said that the State will find a way to support any district that is ready to implement pre-K. We are eager to learn how the Governor will support the applicants who applied for this pre-k funding but did not receive it. These grant awards must only be a step towards the Governor fulfilling his promise to implement universal pre-K.”
“Governor Cuomo’s pre-K plan is far from universal, because $40 million is simply not enough money for the rest of the state,” said Jasmine Gripper, Early Childhood Campaign Coordinator for the Alliance for Quality Education, “While on one hand, it is great news that thousands more 4-year olds will have access to pre-K outside of New York City, the fact remains that tens of thousands of 4-year-olds and families across the state will remain underserved– all due to impediments in a dysfunctional reimbursement process for districts, and not enough money being invested. New Yorkers overwhelmingly want universal Pre-K that prepares every child for Kindergarten, grade school, college, and beyond. The Governor must commit resources to meet the demand for Pre-K programs that are truly universal, high-quality and serve every school district in the state, without putting up roadblocks to success.”