New York Expanding Early Childhood Education Efforts

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is investing $195 million of its ARP/ESSER funding to support a multi-year expansion of full-day universal pre-k programs and another $15 million to expand existing programs using expansion grants. The state aims to address lost early childhood learning, socialization, and other skills by improving access to free public pre-K programs. It is also noteworthy that NYSED is developing a system of data-driven quality indicators to monitor these early childhood programs.

We are spotlighting this practice because it is one of the largest, most targeted investments we have seen thus far in support of early childhood development. The use of recovery funding to help close achievement gaps that emerge prior to students entering the K-12 system is a strategic investment. The fact that the state is being thoughtful about program evaluation is sound practice. By focusing on addressing these gaps at an early age, the state can help to minimize the long-term impact of the pandemic.

Reviewer Analysis

Leslie Villegas

Research has shown that English learners who were enrolled in full-day pre-K programs where they were provided linguistic support perform better in the long-term. To ensure ELs benefit from this investment, NYSED should ensure this expansion includes linguistically and culturally appropriate programs for ELs.

Dale Chu

It is encouraging to see the state directing energy and attention to the early years. The big question will be how to ensure a level of quality during the expansion effort.

The Rural Alliance

We are encouraged by the development of data-driven quality indicators. We are encouraged of the recognition in the area of socialization for these children. Being behind academically and socially is a very difficult barrier to overcome. Social maturity may need to take place before academic maturity can be maximized.

New Leaders

The focus on early childhood education is encouraging – especially a model that includes data-driven indicators that could support accountability for high-quality programs. Given this expansion, an important consideration will be the recruitment and training required to staff additional programs with qualified teachers and school leaders.


Quality indicators are critical to happen alongside growth in this sector. Targeting funding towards the youngest learners who have no other experience than pandemic life is a great use of funds to support the next generation of students.

The Education Trust

We are encouraged by this practice. By incorporating child care programs into the pre-k delivery model, New York State can move closer to equitably supporting children and families in under-served communities, as well as the workforce. This is an exciting opportunity for NYSED to extend its preschool education reach into child care programs and Head Start programs. We encourage NY state to provide professional development/certification opportunities and salary parity for the workforce who are largely women of color who live and work in low-income households.

Southern Regional Education Board

The target group is critical and the development of a data-driven quality indicators to monitor the programs is innovative.

The George W. Bush Presidential Center

This is a strong and smart expansion. The focus must also include continued funding, which may be part of the structure? The eval should be geared to help make it clear to policy makers that this would make a good follow on investment of more standard public dollars.

National Parents Union

This is beneficial to families that you are making this investment into the foundational times of learning for NYS students. This will have a great impact on families who generally cannot afford high quality seats.

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