Mayor Wu, Boston Public Schools Announce Steps to Increase Availability and Variety of Preschool Seats for Boston Families

~ Mayor Michelle Wu today announced two opportunities to expand access to pre-kindergarten (UPK) for Boston's 3- and 4- year-olds. The two applications, or invitations for bids (IFBs), will create more seats for Boston's youngest learners and represent an expanded investment in universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all infants, toddlers, and children under five.

"We're determined to make Boston the first choice for families, and that includes closing gaps in access and availability of early education options," said Mayor Wu. "I know all too well the stress of juggling work and family with very young kids—expanding universal Pre-K will not only give our littlest learners the foundation they deserve in life, but also empower working parents and caregivers in our workforce."

Superintendent Mary Skipper expressed her support for the initiative. "Providing our families with quality pre-kindergarten options for our 3- and 4-year-old children is critical to ensuring that learning gaps do not form and that students' academic, social-emotional, and physical needs are met holistically," she said. "We are so fortunate to have a Mayor who prioritizes the needs of our youngest students and their families and provides the necessary resources to meet such a critical need. Quality UPK is what we need as a foundation for our students of Boston."

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Boston School Committee Chairperson Jeri Robinson also praised Mayor Wu's efforts. "I have always been an advocate for our young people," she said. "Programs like Universal Pre-K are vital to the health and well-being of our communities and I applaud this incredibly positive and consequential program from Mayor Wu."

The Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) model is a mixed delivery portfolio of programs funded by the City of Boston, offering high quality choices for children ages three and four living in the city at no cost to families. UPK is a 6.5 hour school day for 180 days per year. The portfolio is made up of three settings: Boston Public Schools; community based providers; and family child care providers.

Applications are now open on the City of Boston supplier portal from child care providers in the City of Boston to become UPK partners. These partners receive funding from the City of Boston to expand free preschool opportunities accessible to families. Kathy Cheng, Director of the Acorn Center for Early Education & Care at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center commented on this opportunity saying "To have a great childcare center, we must have highly trained, skilled, creative, professional, & passionate teachers...With this funding & consistent support from UPK team & coach we are able to retain teachers with competitive wages & provide rich learning classroom materials."

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Boston UPK will further expand its options by including family child care (FCC) providers in 2023/24 school year which offers more flexible hours & multilingual or mixed age settings sometimes more affordable services than other settings available through UPK program . This expansion follows year long engagement among BPS , Office Of Early Childhood , 20 FCC providers , members Of UPK Advisory Board & other experts . Claudette White , a family child care educator commented on this saying "Integrating family child care into portfolio Of Universal Pre K provides additional high quality setting For Families In Boston...Most importantly it ensures continuity Of Care & Family Choice ." This FCC application will be available on city supplier portal on March 27th . Instructions , full timeline & tips For applying For either Of bids through City Of Boston including details On upcoming virtual information sessions can be found here .

Boston families interested In learning more about applying For Pre K can visit www . bostonpublicschools . org / upk . With these two funding opportunities , UPK will offer up To 1 , 475 seats , an increase Of 350 seats In addition To 3 , 621 K0 & K1 seats In BPS classrooms .

Filed Under: Government, City

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