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City will expand free, full-day pre-K to include 3-year-old kids

De Blasio pushes for largest pre-k expansion in history

NEW YORK — Parents in New York are in luck.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to expand his pre-K initiative to include 3-year-olds for fall of 2017. His Pre-K for All program launched in 2014 after state legislators allocated budget funds for 4-year-old children to attend pre-K.

“We are doubling down with free, full-day, high-quality 3-K for all for our three-year-olds,” said Mayor de Blasio. “This extra year of education will provide our children with a level of academic and social development that they cannot get later on.”

De Blasio hopes to launch a pilot this year at a cost of $36 million. That cost will more than quadruple to $177 million by 2021 when the program goes citywide. Meeting that goal will require funding assistance from the state and federal government.

“The research is clear – investment in early childhood education reaps benefits for students, families and communities for years to come,” de Blasio said.

There are a record 69,510 students enrolled in Pre-K for All, city data shows. It’s a more than a threefold increase from the program’s launch. The new program aims to serve over 11,000 three-year-olds.

It’s an essential step for education, said the Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. Earlier access to education will allow for a level of learning that cannot be made up later on in life.

“We are hitting the ground running with the lessons that we’ve learned from the Pre-K for All expansion,” said Fariña.

New Yorkers interested in enrolling their children in pre-K can visit the city’s school department website here. Parents can apply to 3-k here.