BOSTON (WHDH) – Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced a $20 million investment in early education through the expansion of Boston’s Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, a partnership between Boston Public Schools and the Office of Early Childhood.
The investment will allow Boston to expand support for community-based classrooms, increase the number of spaces available for three- and four-year-olds for the upcoming school year and begin integrating family child care providers into the UPK system.
The investment also builds on Wu’s commitment to universal, accessible and high-quality early education for children under five.
“The biggest investment we can make in our future is to support and center our young people,” Wu said. “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.”
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 enables us 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.”
A new per-classroom funding formula will be rolled out this coming school year to replace the per-pupil formula, ensuring a high-quality learning environment for students and providing more financial and operational stability for child care providers.
“Providing funding per classroom instead of per child will provide stability for child care 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.”
The UPK program is also expanding to include family child care providers that offer families more flexible hours, multilingual or mixed-age settings, and sometimes more accessible services.
“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 Boston Universal Pre-K Principal 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.”
Boston Public Schools and the Office of Early Childhood will partner with 20 family child care providers, UPK Advisory Board members and other experts to design the Boston Family Care UPK program next school year.
Boston UPK is now accepting applications for Pre-K placements at community providers for the 2022-2023 school year on a rolling basis. Eligible students must be Boston residents 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. A list of current community vendors can be found here and can be viewed on a map here. Additional providers may be added in the coming weeks for the 2022-23 school year.
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