Public schools across southwestern Queens will have ‘3-K For All’ preschool programs starting next year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday during a visit to Ozone Park’s Queens Explorers Elementary School.
District 27, which covers Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Richmond Hill, Broad Channel and the Rockaways, will make the 3-K For All program available to all 3-year-old children for the 2018-19 school year. The program, modeled after the Universal Pre-K For All initiative, offers free, full-day early childhood education at public schools and community based organizations partnering with the city’s Department of Education.
Previously launched in the South Bronx and Brooklyn, de Blasio said that the program has already made “a powerful difference” in the lives of preschoolers in both areas. Both he and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña believe the program will have a similar impact on youngsters in District 27, one of six districts that will be added to 3-K for all over the next three years.
“These six new districts will give kids across the five boroughs the strongest possible start in life and ease the financial burden for their families,” de Blasio said. “As a parent and your mayor, there is no more worthwhile cause than expanding opportunity for all our kids.”
“Early education is essential to the success of our students and city, and today we’re taking another big step forward,” added Fariña.
The 3-K For All program will be phased in over the first two years, meaning that it will be offered at some locations the first year before being expanded district-wide in the second year. It aims to make high-quality early childhood education accessible for all families while also giving children a greater chance at academic success down the line.
The Mayor’s Office cited several studies which determined that students who attended two years of preschool rather than just pre-kindergarten are better prepared to enter kindergarten. In later years, they also perform higher on academic tests and other measures used to indicate student success.
Students attending two years of preschool prior to entering kindergarten were also found in a Head Start study to be more likely to engage with other children in recreational activities and spend more time reading at home. They’re also less likely to require special education services, to be abused or neglected or commit crimes, another study found.