New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city will expand its universal pre-kindergarten plan to include all 3-year-old children regardless of family income.
WABC-TV reports that the "3-K for All" plan is being called the most ambitious effort in U.S. history to provide free, full-day, high-quality early childhood education for 3-year-olds.
The mayor says the expansion of the early childhood program will build on the success of Pre-K for All, through which the city has more than tripled the number of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool.
"Using the successful model we developed for Pre-K for All, we are doubling down with free, full-day, high-quality 3-K for All for our 3-year-olds," de Blasio says. "This extra year of education will provide our children with a level of academic and social development that they cannot get later on, while at the same time, alleviating some of the strain New York City's working families face today."
De Blasio pointed to research that indicates every dollar invested in high-quality early education saves taxpayers as much as $13 long term.
"The research is clear," de Blasio says. "Investment in early childhood education reaps benefits for students, families and communities for years to come."
The 3-K for All program will begin in 2017-18 in parts of Brooklyn and the South Bronx and will aim to serve more than 11,000 3-year-olds in new and enhanced full-day settings.
The city intends to expand the program eventually so that by 2021, it will be available in all of the school system's districts.
The New York Times reports that the city is putting $36 million in next year’s budget to finance the program and that it planned to spend $177 million annually on the program at full scale, on top of the $200 million it already spends on seats for 3-year-olds from low-income families. But the program will cost much more than that — more than $1 billion — and de Blasio says he expects the state and federal governments to help with funding.
Video from WABC-TV: