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New York City Plans to Increase Early-Learning Access

New York City officials are taking steps to improve access to early-childhood education next fall with plans to open a school serving at-risk children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old and to add 4,000 new full-day prekindergarten seats in high-need districts.

The city is planning on opening an Educare school in Brooklyn for the 2013-2014 school year; the site would become the 17th in the country of these full-day, year-round schools funded by public-private partnerships that are considered national models for early education, according to city officials. Other Educare schools, serving between 140 and 200 kids, are located in states ranging from Arizona to Oklahoma.

"The time we spend with children in their earliest years, when science shows learning begins, presents a tremendous opportunity to influence their short and long-term paths," Dennis M. Walcott, chancellor of New York City schools, said in a recent press release. "These two major initiatives are designed to seize that unique opportunity in a child's development, and to ensure that our youngest students are on course for success in school and beyond—no matter what ZIP code they hail from."

The city is also planning to run a leadership institute at the Educare school that would "train early-childhood school directors on the most effective approaches to prepare young children for kindergarten and future academic success," officials said.

Some research has shown that Educare schools are effective in preparing at-risk kids for school through a comprehensive approach that includes high-quality instruction and provides training and support for families.

The addition of 4,000 new full-day pre-K seats for the 2013-2014 school year is part of efforts that have "helped increase universal prekindergarten enrollment from 40,000 in 2002 to 58,200 in 2012," according to city officials.

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