States Take Action: New York

New York

In New York, 10,431 children under the age of three are enrolled in Early Head Start programs. During the 2012-13 school year, 45 percent of New York’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in the state-funded Universal Prekindergarten program. This number is expected to rise in coming years thanks to a major investment by the state Legislature, and the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. In March 2014, The New York Times argued that the city is now “Leading the Country on Pre-K.” However, the average annual cost of center-based infant care in the state is amongst the highest in the country at $14,939.

  • What the governor and other leaders are saying: In his State of the State address on Jan. 8, 2014, Gov. Cuomo declared that “while we remake our class rooms for tomorrow, we must get young minds engaged as early as possible. In 2013 in the State of the State, we called for expanded full day Pre-K. The assembly has long championed the same. It is time for New York State to have universal full day Pre-K statewide.” New York Mayor de Blasio also ran on a campaign to fund full-day public preschool for all New York City children. Marking his 100th day in office shortly after a state budget agreement expanded pre-K funding, the mayor remarked, “In a progressive city, there’s equal education opportunity for every child … Our goal was to create something universal because the problems were so deep, they couldn’t just reach a few. Universal pre-K is one of the most important things we can do to launch kids on a successful educational career and a successful life.”
  • What’s happening in the Legislature and New York City: An agreement between Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature on a state budget will provide the state with free, full-day, pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds, at $340 million in funding a year, or more than $1.5 billion over five years. New York City received $300 million to expand pre-K, which will aim to serve about 73,000 children by the 2015-16 school year. De Blasio called the state budget agreement “an extraordinary and historic step forward for New York City … It’s clearly the resources we need to create full-day pre-K for every child in this city.” In June 2014, Mayor de Blasio also highlighted a mixed-use affordable housing development that “combines his affordable housing and universal pre-K” goals. In September 2014, more than 50,000 4-year-olds embarked on their first day of free, full-day pre-K in the city.