MANHATTAN — The application period for the city’s free pre-K programs starts Jan. 25, more than a month earlier than previous years, Department of Education officials announced Friday.
The news comes weeks after the DOE bumped the kindergarten process earlier in a bid to make the early childhood education application process easier and give families more opportunities to find the right program, city officials said.
Offer letters will also come a month earlier, in May, as a result, the city said.
“Pre-K for All is now part of the lives of tens of thousands of children,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, noting that a record 68,500 students are enrolled in more than 1,200 sites across the city.
“It will only get bigger and better from here."
All families with children born in 2012 are eligible for pre-K next school year and will have from Jan. 25 – Mar. 4 to submit applications. Offer letters will be sent at the beginning of May — instead of in June as was the case last year.
The city also unveiled a new data system Friday that will assess its Pre-K for All programs, which it says will help families with their decision-making process — as well as be used by the Education Department to gauge the effectiveness of the program.
The assessment tools are observation-based and measure what children experience in their classrooms and how those experiences impact their learning and development.
They look at the interactions between students and adults in pre-K classrooms, zooming in on emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support.
The children themselves are not assessed, school officials noted.
Pre-K programs will use the assessment results to help target professional development and identify ways to improve their instruction.
The assessment criteria will also be used as part of the DOE’s data-driven approach to hold pre-K programs accountable and may be a factor in contract renewals or a school’s continued ability to offer pre-K in future years, officials noted.
As the city has dramatically expanded its pre-K offerings, officials have still been working to get the word out. More than 3,000 4-year-olds applied since the first day of school in September, they said.
How to apply:
Families can submit applications online, over the phone, or in person at a Family Welcome Center using a single application to up to 12 pre-K programs, including those at public schools or community-based early education centers.
The online application is translated into nine languages, and families can submit an application over the phone in over 200 languages by calling 718-935-2067.