Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña and Deputy Mayor Buery Announce Record Percentage of Families Receiving Top Pre-K for All Choice

April 20, 2017

Families receive Round 1 offers in April for the first time, earlier than ever before

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced that a record 87 percent of families received an offer to one of their top three free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K for All program choices and 74 percent of families received an offer to their top choice. In 2015, 82 percent of families received an offer to one of their top three choices, and 70 percent received an offer to their top choice. All 65,348 applicants received an offer for a Pre-K for All seat today, and there are thousands of additional seats available for Round 2 of admissions, which runs through May 9. Families are encouraged to pre-register by May 9 for the offer they received, and also explore Round 2 options.

Every child born in 2013 who lives in New York City is eligible to apply and to attend Pre-K for All this fall.

“Pre-K for All is one of many ways we’re attempting to even the playing field for students and families. Regardless of which neighborhood you live in, your parents’ financial situation or what language you speak, if you are a four-year old in this city, you have a right to free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Pre-K is the first step on the path to academic success and I’m thrilled to offer acceptance to over 65,000 families in this first round.” 

“Pre-K for All provides an essential foundation for our students, and the first part of a great education in New York City. It is also a game-changer for parents, saving them an average of $10,000 a year on childcare costs. I share the excitement of the tens of thousands of families who received their Pre-K offers today,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “I encourage families who haven’t yet applied to take advantage of the Round 2 admissions process, and our Pre-K outreach team is contacting families across the five boroughs to get the word out to everyone, regardless of what language they speak or what background they come from.”

“Providing every four year-old in New York City access to free, high-quality early education is one of the single most effective ways local government can promote equality and prevent factors like race, neighborhood, family income, or national origin from determining how bright a child’s future can be. I am so proud that in the fourth year of Pre-K for All, we continue to make improvements that increase overall satisfaction – like accepting more families into their top school choices. To all families who have not yet applied, there is still time: Apply by May 9th to be considered in round 2 admissions,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives.

This year, the percentage of eligible students in shelter applying to Pre-K increased to 47 percent, up from 38 percent last year. 92 percent of students in shelter who applied received an offer to one of their top three program choices, higher than the citywide average. These promising results follow a number of new admissions supports for students in shelter – including training for shelter-based staff; shelter-based workshops; shelter “Days of Action”; texting campaigns; and direct invitation, transportation, and individualized counseling at information sessions and fairs.

This is the earliest-ever first round of Pre-K for All offers, and the first time that families have received offers in April.

Approximately 2,400 families participated in a survey about the Pre-K for All application process. Overall, 95 percent of respondents had a positive experience submitting their Pre-K application using the single, easy-to-complete online process. 92 percent of families who used the new Pre-K Quality Snapshot, a new tool launched in January to learn about pre-K options, found it helpful. Following a number of changes to improve the online Pre-K Finder – including making it easier to search, and adding more information on programs – 81 percent of families said they found the tool helpful in their program search, up from 56 percent last year.

There are a record 69,510 students enrolled in free, full-day, high quality Pre-K for All, more than a threefold increase from 19,287 full-day pre-K students during the 2013-14 school year. 53,120 students were enrolled in full-day pre-K in 2014-15, and 68,647 full-day pre-K students were enrolled in 2015-16. Pre-K for All is the foundation of Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda, which aims to ensure that by 2026, 80 percent of students graduate high school on time and two-thirds of graduates are college ready.

From Pre-K for All to College Access for All, the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. Our schools are starting earlier – free, full-day, high-quality pre-K for every four-year-old through Pre-K for All. They are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier – Universal Literacy so that every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All to improve elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensure that all 8th graders have access to algebra. They are offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All will give all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools.

The percentage of applicants receiving an offer to their top Pre-K for All choice increased or stayed consistent across all five boroughs:

  • 80 percent of Bronx families received their top choice, up from 78 percent in 2016
  • 74 percent of Brooklyn families received their top choice, up from 72 percent in 2016
  • 70 percent of Manhattan families received their top choice, up from 69 percent in 2016
  • 72 percent of Queens families received their top choice, up from 69 percent in 2016
  • 70 percent of Staten Island families received their top choice, consistent with 70 percent in 2016

All families with children born in 2013 – including those who received offers today – are eligible to apply in the second round, which remains open until 11:59 PM on May 9. Submitting a Round 2 application does not affect a family’s current offer or waitlist status. Families can use the online Pre-K Finder to find programs near them and see those programs’ Pre-K Quality Snapshots, and families looking for more information about the application process should review the Pre-K Directory. Both resources are available in ten languages. Additionally, hard copies of English and translated directories are available for all families who need one. Hard copies are available at our Family Welcome Centers, elementary schools, pre-K programs, and libraries and community organizations across the City.

Families can apply in one of three ways: online at www.nyc.gov/prek, over the phone by calling 718-935-2067, or in person at one of the DOE’s 12 Family Welcome Centers. The application is translated into nine languages, and additional translation services are available over the phone in more than 200 languages. There are enough free, full-day, high-quality seats to meet the demand of every four-year-old in New York City.

For this admissions cycle, a total of 19 elementary, middle, and high schools are participating in the Diversity in Admissions pilot. These schools give priority in their admissions processes to students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (FL or FRL), English Language Learners (ELLs), and/or were in the child welfare system or impacted by incarceration. Offers for nine participating elementary schools with Pre-K went to families today. The nine schools met or exceeded nearly every one of their targets.

Parents with children enrolled in free, full-day pre-K save an average of $10,000 annually on childcare costs. A new NYU study found that Pre-K for All makes it more likely that a low-income child in New York City is properly diagnosed with asthma or vision problems, and receives screening or treatment for hearing or vision problems. Additionally, independent research from the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity demonstrated high satisfaction with pre-K for all: 92 percent of families surveyed rated their program as excellent or good, and 83 percent of families said their child learned “a lot” in pre-K. Across the board, the research shows that both students and families are seeing critical benefits from Pre-K for All.  

“Free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K is a game-changer for our 4-year-olds, and I am pleased to see that the application process continues to be more responsive to families’ needs. In particular, we see that parents are taking advantage of our new Pre-K Quality Snapshot as well as the Pre-K Finder to make good choices for their child. I look forward to more families applying through the Round 2 admissions process and finding the right pre-K seat for them,” said Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack.

Assistant Speaker of the NYS Assembly Felix W Ortiz said, "Pre-K has been a great program for our children. I am pleased that the Mayor has come to Sunset Park to announce that  74 percent of Brooklyn families received their top pre-K  school choice."

"NYC's Pre-K for All program continues to thrive," said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. "It is heartening to know that the vast majority of families taking advantage of this program received an offer to one of their top choices. So many of these children will prosper in elementary school and beyond thanks to the educational benefits a quality Pre-K program provides. I celebrate this development which demonstrates our city's commitment to early childhood education."

"Our families are sending us a strong message: YES to Pre-K For All in our neighborhoods. Record breaking Pre-K For All enrollment and an increasing percentage of families getting their top locations choices is a winning combination. Expanding the "Diversity in Admissions" pilot program will offers even more access to English language learners, families impacted by incarceration, and children in free lunch programs or who are receiving child welfare services. All New Yorkers benefit especially low-income and immigrant families who see exceptional benefits economically and in health and academic outcomes when they participate in Pre-K For All,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

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