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For Immediate Release
These new federal dollars will be used to expand preschool or improve the quality of preschool for roughly 2,000 4-year-olds over the next four years. New Jersey is expected to receive about $66.5 million during that time, with $17.5 million being awarded in the first year.
The grants are is part of President Obama’s Preschool for All Initiative. A total of 18 states received preschool funding, with six states receiving start-up funds and 13 states, including New Jersey, receiving expansion funds. The grants totaled more than $226 million, under the Preschool Development Grants program.
“This is incredible news for New Jersey’s children and families,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director, Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which has long supported preschool expansion. “This means that thousands more New Jersey children will have access to a quality preschool that can help them arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.”
While New Jersey’s 2008 school funding law mandates public preschool for thousands of low-income children living across the state, the expansion has never been fully funded, with just four districts receiving state dollars for preschool expansion since the law’s passage. New Jersey continues, however, to maintain model preschools in 31 of the state’s poorest school districts, under a 1998 Supreme Court decision.
“Our vision is for every child to have access to high-quality early education that can support school success,” Zalkind said. “New Jersey’s leaders should view this infusion of federal funds as an opportunity to augment this investment with state funds to finally keep the promise of preschool for thousands of children.”
Federal officials also announced today that five New Jersey child care agencies will receive a total of $8.9 million to help other non-Early Head Start centers improve the quality of care they provide to infants and toddlers. The following agencies were awarded these quality improvement grants:
For more information on early learning in New Jersey, visit www.acnj.org.