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Regents want free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds

Dec 16, 2022 12:45 am

Kathleen Moore is reporting for the Times Union the New York State Board of Regents wants all 4-year-olds to have free preschool by 2030 and then expand the program to all 3-year-olds by 2035. The board has submitted a budget request to the state, asking for $1.1 million for staff to redesign preschool funding. Access issues include trouble with transportation and limited space at existing preschools, as well as difficulty making the preschools accessible to those with disabilities. Most districts do not have space for preschool in their school buildings, so they pay for space at existing private preschools, but many of those buildings are not accessible — some have stairs, no elevators, not enough space for a wheelchair or no accessible playground equipment. The Board of Regents has asked the state for $20 million for a preschool inclusivity grant that would be awarded to districts that provide services to 4-year-olds with disabilities. The state would continue funding for the program so that, by 2035, all children age 3 and older would be in free full-day education. The preschool years have long been understood to be a crucial learning time for children and a way to reduce the achievement gap. In 1965, the federal government launched Head Start for children ages 3 to 5 and research now shows that children who attended Head Start have better educational outcomes than their peers who did not go through the program. Read the full story in the Times Union.