Steps Taken to Increase Availability, Variety of Preschool Seats for Boston Families
Boston UPK seeks additional community-based and family child care providers.
Mayor Michelle Wu today announced two opportunities to expand access to pre-kindergarten (UPK) for Boston’s 3- and 4- year-olds through the release of two applications, or invitations for bids (IFBs). Together, these funding opportunities 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 Michelle 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."
“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,” said Superintendent Mary Skipper. “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.”
“I have always been an advocate for our young people,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Jeri Robinson. “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.”
In Boston, 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 to Open For New Providers to Become UPK Partners
Boston UPK is seeking applications from child care providers in the City of Boston to become UPK partners. UPK partners receive funding from the City of Boston to expand the number of high quality, free preschool opportunities accessible to families. The funding opportunity for community-based providers – nonprofit and for-profit organizations, early education providers, private schools, religious schools – is now open on the City of Boston supplier portal for providers to apply.
“To have a great childcare center, we must have highly trained, skilled, creative, professional, and passionate teachers. We are facing difficult workforce challenges,” said Kathy Cheng, Director of the Acorn Center for Early Education and Care at Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. “With this funding and the consistent support from the UPK team and our coach, we are able to retain teachers with competitive wages, build a strong professional development track, and provide rich learning classroom materials.”
UPK Expansion to Integrate Family Child Care Providers
Boston UPK will further expand its options for families by including family child care (FCC) providers in the 2023-24 school year. Family child care providers offer families more flexible hours, multilingual or mixed-age settings, and sometimes more affordable services. This expansion will allow families to access UPK when and where it is most convenient for them. The expansion follows year-long engagement among BPS, the Office of Early Childhood, 20 FCC providers, members of the UPK Advisory Board, and other experts to create the new FCC model.
“Integrating family child care into the portfolio of Universal Pre-K provides an additional high quality setting for families in Boston,” said TeeAra Dias, Director of Boston Universal Pre-K. “Most importantly, it ensures continuity of care and family choice.”
This FCC application will be available on the city supplier portal on March 27.
Instructions, a full timeline, and tips for applying for either of the bids through the City of Boston, including details on upcoming virtual information sessions, can be found here.
“I‘m excited about the integration of UPK into FCC programs. This is the boost that FCC providers need to highlight that we are not babysitters but educators,” said Claudette White, a family child care educator. “We are business owners and educators that manage high-quality early education programs.”
In partnership with community-based and family child care providers, Boston UPK will offer up to 1,475 seats, an increase of 350 seats. This is in addition to 3,621 K0 and K1 seats in Boston Public Schools classrooms.
Boston families interested in learning more about applying for Pre-K can visit www.bostonpublicschools.org/upk.
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- Published by: Schools