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Governor Cuomo Outlines $25 Million Pilot to Support Pre-K for Three-Year-Olds


(2/25/15): Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today outlined his proposal to expand pre-K to 3-year-olds in the State’s highest-need communities. The Governor is committing $25 million to fund this pilot program, for which more than 250 school districts will be eligible to apply. More than 5,000 seats are projected to be made available for 3-year-olds across the State through this program. Today’s presentation can be viewed here.

“Early learning opportunities can have a tremendous impact on a child’s achievements in life – both during the formative years and over the long-run,” Governor Cuomo said. “By funding pre-k for three year olds in high-need communities, we can begin to shrink the achievement gap and set those students on the path to success from an even younger age.”

The achievement gap starts at an early age – according to Strategies for Children, by the time children are three years old, those who grow up in professional families have vocabularies of about 1,116 words; those in working class families have vocabularies of about 749 words; and those in families on public assistance have vocabularies of about 525 words.

Early learning can bridge that gap and provide benefits not only in life’s earliest stages but also in the long term. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, children who participated in high quality early childhood education programs have higher cognitive test scores from the toddler years to age 21, higher academic achievement in both reading and math, and were more likely to attend a four-year college and ultimately be gainfully employed. Research in neuroscience indicates that 85 percent of brain development occurs by age three and 90 percent occurs between birth and age five, according to the Harvard University Center for the Developing Child.

The 3-year-old pre-K pilot builds on the Governor’s historic commitment to funding early education. The 2015-16 Executive Budget includes funding for the second year of a five-year, $1.5 billion investment in full-day pre-K programs across the State. The State currently spends more than $750 million annually on pre-K for 4-year-olds, supporting the education of 116,000 children across the State.

We must reach our neediest children in the critical development window – while they are young. The benefits of early education will help even our youngest students reach their greatest potential. The earlier in life children can participate in high-quality programs, the better the State’s education system can work to ensure opportunity for all.


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