Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the state will commit to providing universal pre-K to all families across the state over the next several years. The round of funding establishes or expands high-quality pre-K programs in 19 additional school districts across the state, including two districts in Cumberland County. The Department of Education will develop a Strategic Plan that will sets a roadmap for further pre-K expansion throughout the state.
“Investing in early childhood education lays the foundation for a bright future for our early learners,” said Murphy. “Our Administration is committed to ensuring that every New Jersey child receives a high-quality education starting with pre-K. While we still have a long way to go to achieve pre-K for all, today’s expansion further demonstrates our commitment to reaching as many students as possible.”
The Governor’s Universal Pre-K Strategic Plan, led by the Department of Education, proposes to focus on the following:
• Prioritizing districts and setting a timeline for expansion;
• Ensuring students have appropriate facilities and quality programming;
• Involving childcare providers and Head Start in planning to avoid displacing existing high-quality early learning centers;
• Optimizing funding streams, including federal funds from the federal Build Back Better Plan; and
• Utilizing best practices from other states that offer expanded/universal pre-K programs.
In addition to a vision for pre-K statewide, Murphy announced 19 school districts have been awarded $17 million in pre-K expansion funding for the 2021-2022 school year. This latest round of funding was announced during a visit today to the Dr. Charles Smith Early Childhood Center in Palisades Park, which received $823,860 in state funding.
The two districts in Cumberland County that received new state funding to expand or create a high-quality preschool program in the 2021-2022 school year are:
• Commercial Township, with a funding level of $563,112, and
• Deerfield Township, to receive $415,831 in funds.