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.