OneNYC 2050 : Volume 6 of 9 : Equity and Excellence in Education

Make New York City a leading national model for early childhood education

The earliest years of a child’s life are critical to ensuring academic success later on. But lack of access to robust and comprehensive early education in New York City resulted in a fractured system in which only families with sufficient financial resources and those with a low-enough income to qualify for free programming had access to early childhood education. We are disrupting these entrenched inequities by expanding developmental services, guaranteeing early childhood learning through our universal pre-K and expanded 3-K programs, and investing in achieving universal literacy by second grade. We will ensure all children, regardless of family income, get a strong start in their educational journey.
Ensure All Eligible Children Ages Birth To Three-Years-Old Have Access To Developmental Services

The earlier children with developmental delays or disabilities receive services, the faster we can identify their individual needs and create a targeted plan to ensure they stay aligned with their peers and on track for academic success. The New York City Early Intervention (EI) Program provides developmental services to nearly 30,000 children from birth to three-years-old each year, at no direct cost to families. Yet not all communities access EI services at the same rate, due in part to the stigma attached to developmental delays and disabilities. To close this gap, we will conduct outreach and education to strengthen relationships with community partners and engage populations that use EI services at a lower rate, with the goal of enrolling a total of 1,500 additional children from zip codes with referral rates lower than the city average.

  • Increase community awareness of early childhood development and the Early Intervention Program to diminish stigma
    The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will engage 5,000 community members per year to introduce the EI Program to parents, with the goal of overcoming the stigma associated with developmental delays and disabilities. DOHMH will provide information and training in small community venues, and participate in place-based problem-solving and other neighborhood initiatives related to early childhood development.
  • Increase referrals from pediatricians
    DOHMH will engage the pediatric community to increase awareness of conditions that make children eligible for EI services, how children can enter EI, and the role pediatricians play while children are in these programs. We will distribute 700 clinician tool kits and partner with pediatric residency programs and practices serving children in neighborhoods with low rates of referral to the EI Program.
  • Increase referrals from childcare providers
    DOHMH will distribute 1,000 childcare tool kits and conduct outreach to childcare centers in neighborhoods with low rates of referral to the EI Program. The tool kits and outreach will focus on understanding both typical and atypical child development, communication with families regarding developmental concerns, and referral to the program. DOHMH will also distribute a video showing how childcare providers can observe and document children’s development, discuss their concerns with parents, and make referrals.
Expand 3-K For All To More Than One-Third Of All School Districts By The End Of The 2020 School Year

There is extensive research supporting the transformative value of free, full-day, high-quality 3-K to improve academic and social outcomes. To achieve the vision of 3-K for All citywide, we will need additional support from partners in the State and Federal governments, as the cost of scaling up the program will be approximately $200 million. This is a small price to pay for $10,000 in annual childcare savings for parents, and the invaluable gains that come from students starting on a level playing field as they enter kindergarten. In the meantime, we are working toward aligning our early childhood curriculums, integrating data collection, and providing a seamless connection to K–12 education.

Along with our 3-K for All efforts, we are also working toward transferring all EarlyLearn programming (which provides free or low-cost full-day, full-year childcare and education for children ages six weeks to four-years-old) from the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to DOE to create a unified education system under one department that meets the education

Offer Training For Home-Based Childcare Providers

Family childcare is a critical component of the early childhood system in New York City, serving thousands of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children every year. Through the EarlyLearn system, ACS supports about 1,600 family childcare providers accessed by low-income families that otherwise would not be able to afford high-quality care. As the City prepares to transition the EarlyLearn system from ACS to DOE in July 2019, family childcare remains a critical part of this effort.

Over the next few years, DOE will build out its support structure to ensure family childcare providers receive the resources they need to provide a high-quality, developmentally appropriate education that is also sensitive to the different languages and cultural diversity of the students they serve. DOE will support family childcare providers and offer expertise in areas including infant and early childhood education, mental health, special education, and family and community engagement. In so doing, we will ensure families and their young children from all socioeconomic backgrounds are able to enjoy the stability, benefits, and educational gains from home-based, trained childcare.

More children than ever have access to early childhood education.

Map of childhood education program types in NYC.

Source: DOE

More children than ever have access to early childhood education. Source: DOE

Achieve Universal Literacy By Second Grade

Reading is a critical tool for ensuring both a child’s academic success across all subjects and ability to thrive in all aspects of life. The Universal Literacy Program, launched in 2016, deploys reading coaches to schools to work with kindergarten to second-grade teachers to improve student literacy. The program is particularly important for students who have less exposure to books or a wide range of words while outside of school. The goal is to have at least two-thirds of all second graders reading proficiently by the end of the 2022 school year, and all second graders reading at grade level by 2026.

In 2018, the Universal Literacy Program met its first benchmark: providing a literacy coach or other support to each of the 792 New York City elementary schools. This benchmark includes approximately 400 universal literacy reading coaches serving elementary schools citywide. Going forward, we will provide every school with dedicated literacy support for grades K–12. This will also support children who speak a language other than English at home or who face reading delays.

Photograph of children and an educator in EarlyLearn NYC.

EarlyLearn NYC is free or low-cost child care and education for children from six weeks to four years old.
Source: DOE

Offer Free, Full-Day, High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten For Every Four Year-Old

Pre-K for All brings free, full-day, high-quality pre-K to every four-year-old in New York City, helping prepare them for kindergarten, and giving them a strong start in school and life. Pre-K for All classrooms are full of joy and discovery as children learn to problem-solve, ask questions, and explore the world around them.

The expansion of the program has focused not only on increasing access, but also on investing in quality instruction and family engagement. Enrollment is strong across every community, with strong participation among low-income families.

All New York City children have access to Pre-K.

Source: DOE

Bar chart of pre-k children enrolled in NYC.

All New York City children have access to Pre-K. Source: DOE

2.5X More Children Are Enrolled In Pre-K Today Than In The 2013-2014 School Year

Pre-K for All

In 2013, DOE enrolled just 19,000 students in pre-kindergarten. Today, nearly 70,000 students are enrolled in pre-K, and more than 94 percent of these programs meet or exceed the quality threshold set by the city.

Pre-K for All gives children stronger math and reading skills in elementary school and a better chance at success in life. Studies show early childhood education improves performance throughout a child’s school experience. This extra year of learning is an essential part of the Equity and Excellence for All vision to deliver a high-quality education to all students, and prepare them for success.

Children are inquisitive, curious, and eager to learn at a young age. Early education programs are a unique opportunity for learning, particularly with 85 percent of brain growth occurring before the age of five. Studies also reveal pre-K provides children with stronger math, language, and reading skills, and a better foundation for success in life. Free, full-day pre-K also saves families money and provides more time to work.

Early education is the foundation for future success in school and beyond — and is why Mayor de Blasio has worked tirelessly to provide this strong foundation to every four-year-old in New York City. It wasn’t easy, and success wasn’t guaranteed — but it was the right thing to do, for our kids, and for our future.

Photograph of pre-K students at P.S. 323 in Brooklyn.

Pre-K students at P.S. 323 in Brooklyn.
Source: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office