2009-01-16 / School News

More Than 4,000 UPK Seats Remain Available

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn recently announced a deadline extension until January 30 for free universal pre-Kindergarten (UPK) seats, and urged parents to sign up their children for UPK programs. More than 4,000 seats remain open at public schools, child care centers contracted by the Administration for Children's Services, and community-based organizations across the five boroughs. All children who turned four years old between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008, are eligible for UPK. Programs can be half-day (two and a half hours, a.m. or p.m.) or fullday (six hours and twenty minutes).

"In the last six years, we've increased access to quality pre-Kindergarten programs across New York City," said Mayor Bloomberg. "By extending the deadline, we are encouraging parents to take advantage of an opportunity that will give their children a head start on learning."

"It has been a priority of mine since I became Speaker to ensure that all four-year olds in New York City who qualify for a UPK program have that option," said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "Now that the deadline for enrollment has been extended until January 30, I encourage all New Yorkers to look out for City Council Members and staff handing out flyers in their neighborhoods, to visit the Department of Education website or call 311 so we can work together to fill these empty seats. Early childhood education is integral to the future development of our City's young people, and is one of the most critical factors in determining future success."

"As the City works to increase its capacity to provide free universal pre- Kindergarten to all four-year-olds, we urge parents to take advantage of the seats currently available," said Chancellor Klein. "A quality early childhood education is the foundation for success in school."

Since 2002, the number of four-yearolds enrolled in New York City UPK programs has increased by more than 14,000. The Bloomberg administration and the City Council have collaborated throughout this period to increase access to pre-Kindergarten programs and to ensure that all programs meet the same high standards. This year, more than 58,000 pre-Kindergarten seats were opened across the five boroughs. The Department of Education (DOE) and City Council are working to publicize the availability of UPK seats before the new January 30 deadline.

"UPK programs are a crucial component of the City's early care and education system and an excellent support to working parents," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs. "ACS and DOE have been working together to ensure all children can have access to quality programs."

"While the majority of the vacancies are for 2.5 hours of pre-K instruction, even participating in a high-quality half-day program can have a positive impact on a child's success in school," said Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott. "Parents should not miss this chance to give their children a strong start."

"Children's Services and the Department of Education are working together to ensure that parents have access to quality child care throughout the City," said Administration for Children's Services (ACS) Commissioner John B. Mattingly. "There are still UPK slots available in our contracted centers and Children's Services knows that children who receive quality child care in our settings experience longterm benefits."

"It is critical that we work to inform parents that the deadline to enroll their children in UPK has been extended to January 30th and seats are still available for four-year-old children that need them," said Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson.

"Pre-K education is the first step in helping children to succeed in school and beyond, and provides a crucial foundation for our City's children. I am thrilled that we have extended the deadline to sign up for UPK, and we will work to tell all New Yorkers so that we can fill as many of the remaining UPK seats as possible."

To find programs with vacancies, parents can call 311 and ask for "UPK programs in my neighborhood," or log onto the DOE's Web site at www.nyc. gov/schools/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/, where a list of programs with vacancies can be downloaded.

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