New York State launched its Universal Pre-K (UPK) program in 1998, merging it with the state’s targeted pre-K program in 2007. In 2014, the Statewide Universal Full-Day Prekindergarten Program (SUFDPK) was created by statute (Chapter 53 of the Laws of 2014); the program allocated $340 million for grants to incentivize and fund full-day UPK programs across the state; $300 million of this funding went to launch New York City’s UPK program, and the remaining $40 million was disbursed across the state to expand full-day programs. Thanks to these expansion efforts, 52% of the state’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in public pre-K. The percentage dropped to 46% in 2021 but returned to 52% in 2022. As part of the 2022 enacted budget, the state allocated an additional $90 million for noncompetitive awards to districts that had not yet received state funding to support UPK, and $15 million for competitive grants to expand full-day seats for 4-year-olds. The competitive grants are awarded through an RFP process, overseen by the state’s Office of Early Learning. In 2023, the state appropriated an additional $25 million for statewide pre-K grants to create either new full-day slots, or to expand half-day slots to full-day slots for 4-year-olds; this round of funding will be awarded through an RFP process.
New York State Department of Education. (n.d.). 2023-2024 Universal Prekindergarten Expansion Grant.
New York State Department of Education. (n.d.). Questions and Answers for GC 22-010a – Universal Prekindergarten Expansion Grant.
National Institute for Early Education Research. (2023). New York.
Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:
Learn More about ELS@H Findings
High-quality, affordable early education and care supports children’s healthy development and allows families to work, engage in their own educational pursuits, and/or participate in other aspects of community life. To support children and families in these instrumental ways, research suggests there is a need to expand the availability of early education opportunities across the mixed-delivery system.
Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:
- Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
- But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.