NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Department of Education Chancellor David Banks announced Tuesday an expansion of preschool special-education seats. The expansion will provide an early childhood education special-education seat for every child living with a disability by spring of 2023, city officials said.
The NYC early childhood education system currently does not have a strategic focus for serving young children with disabilities. The city is addressing this through a citywide contract enhancement process.
Educators and Providers
Educators of children with disabilities have historically been paid less than their general education peers. The new initiative includes an increase in pay for educators and providers.
“This expansion ensures not only that our youngest are provided the resources they need to succeed, but that the educators and caretakers who serve them are paid fairly and at a rate worthy of the life-shaping work they do,” Adams said.
Earlier this year, Advocates for Children released a report showing that roughly a third of the 30,000 preschoolers with disabilities in NYC did not receive all their mandated services in 2019-2020. The report included recommendations for the city.
“For far too long, children with disabilities and their families have been overlooked by a system that was not built with them in mind. Our vision for early childhood education sees all children,” Banks said. “My team has particularly been focused on young children living with disabilities. We are deeply committed to establishing early childhood education that works for all New York City families. A truly accessible, high-quality, and sustainable program that equitably serves our children living with disabilities.”
The first set of special education contract enhancements will be implemented across 65 provider contracts. Approximately 3,000 seats across the sector will benefit, including 400 new seats to meet needs. By spring, an additional 400 new seats will be added for a total of 800 new seats. Additional seats will be stabilized by the contract enhancement process.
NYC Expanding Preschool Special-Education Resources
The special education contract enhancements will include:
- Earmarking $130 million for early childhood education special education providers over two years;
- Aligning early childhood education special education programs with the city’s 3-K and pre-K general education programs by extending the school day from five hours to six hours and 20 minutes and providing extended care and learning for children and support for working families;
- Extending general early childhood education site supports to early childhood education special education providers;
- Establishing funding to help programs recruit, train, and retain staff to support special education seats across the early childhood education landscape;
- And allocating funds for teacher and staff salaries in accordance with new services and lengthened school days.
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