Mayor Wu Announces $20 Million Investment to Expand Boston’s Universal Prep Program

Boston UPK expansion includes new funding formula, increase to 992 spaces in community provider settings, family child care service plans

Mayor Michelle Wu today announced a $20 million investment in early education through Boston’s Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, a partnership between BPS and the Office of Early Childhood. This investment builds on Mayor Wu’s commitment to universal, accessible, high-quality early education and care for all babies, toddlers and children under five. Through this new investment, the City of Boston will expand support for community classrooms, increase the number of spaces available for 3- and 4-year-olds for the upcoming school year, and begin integrating family child care providers into the UPK system.

“The biggest investment we can make in our future is to support and center our young people,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “With this historic investment in early childhood education, we can boost the growth of high-quality Pre-K spots, attract family child care providers to the UPK network, and ensure that all of our families have access to free and affordable care for children and early childhood education.”

In addition to expanding access, Boston UPK will increase developmental and behavioral health screenings, interventions to support students, culturally appropriate and challenging curriculum, and quality improvement training in classrooms.

“UPK makes it possible to pay excellent teachers a competitive salary, have regular, supportive coaching and continually invest in our classrooms,” said Lauren Cook, CEO of Ellis Early Learning. “Our teachers appreciate the high-quality curriculum and are proud to be part of the UPK community. Our students are thriving and parents are excited about our partnership with BPS. Our UPK classrooms set the bar internally and elevate our organization. We could not be happier or more grateful to partner with BPS in this vital work.”

This upcoming school year, Boston UPK will also launch new classroom funding formula replacing the per-student formula to provide a high-quality learning environment for students. The new funding formula and rate will provide financial and operational stability to child care providers, enable them to implement high-quality programming, and ensure teachers in municipal facilities are paid commensurate with staff in district schools.

“Providing funding per classroom instead of per child will provide stability for childcare providers who have been hit hard by COVID,” said Christine McSwain, Director of the Office of Early Childhood. “It will also allow many of them to extend their working hours beyond the required 6.5 to better meet the needs of working families.”

Boston UPK will also expand to include family child care providers, increasing the options available to prospective families. Family Child Care Providers offer families more flexible hours, multilingual or mixed-age settings, and sometimes more accessible services. Over the next school year, BPS and the Office of Early Childhood will partner with 20 family child care providers who are members of UPK Advisory Boardand other experts to develop Boston’s UPK Family Child Care Program.

“We are grateful for the continued investment in Universal Pre-K by the City of Boston and Mayor Michelle Wu in collaboration with Boston Public Schools,” said Principal of Boston Universal Pre-K TeeAra Dias. “Our blended delivery model ensures family choice and that there is no wrong door for families looking for a high-quality pre-K experience.”

For the second year in a row, Boston UPK will increase the number of spots available for both 3- and 4-year-olds at community providers. Specifically, UPK will now offer up to 992 places at community providers, with up to 627 places for 4-year-olds and up to 365 places for 3-year-olds. UPK also includes an additional 2,556 K1 places in BPS for 4-year-old children without disabilities and 880 K0/K1 places for 3- and 4-year-old children with disabilities. Additionally, Boston UPK will present Focus on the 3s, a new, personalized curriculum for the 2022-2023 school year for 3-year-old classrooms. The curriculum was developed through a collaboration between BPS, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, and Early Childhood Support Organizations (ECSO).

Boston UPK is now accepting applications for Pre-K slots at community providers for the 2022-2023 school year on an ongoing basis. Eligible students must be residents of Boston and must be three or four years old on or before September 1, 2022. More information about the Boston UPK program and the application can be found at www.bostonpublicschools.org/upk. You can find a list of current community providers here and can be seen on a map here. Additional providers may be added in the coming weeks for the 2022-23 school year.

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