FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The state of Connecticut has allocated an additional 1,020 School Readiness slots for low-income children in 46 towns and cities, including in Danbury, Greenwich, Norwalk and Stamford.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made the announcement Wednesday in Meriden about the additional opportunity for children to attend high-quality preschools.
“Investing in high-quality education is the single most important investment we can make in our state and our economy,” said Malloy. “With this expansion, we are taking immediate steps to provide 1,020 additional children in low-income families with a strong start and foundation for lifelong success.”
These four towns in Fairfield County were among those that gained more School Readiness slots:
- Danbury: 7 more seats
- Greenwich: 5 more seats
- Norwalk: 70 more seats
- Stamford: 37 more seats
State Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk, Darien) praised the announcement. “Creating additional opportunities for children to participate in quality pre-K programming is the surest way to improve their lifetime academic performance," Duff said in a statement. "Preparing children to learn at an early age puts them on a path to success for the rest of their life. I am very proud to see 70 new opportunities awarded to Norwalk children, a significant increase over the last time such an award was made.”
In 2012, Malloy approved a similar expansion of 1,000 School Readiness opportunities for children throughout the state.
To be eligible for School Readiness funding, programs must be accredited or pursuing accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or be a federal Head Start approved program. The additional 1,020 opportunities will become available at the beginning of the upcoming school year. The expansion was included in Public Act 14-39, which was signed by Malloy in May. The School Readiness Program is a state-funded program which provides high-quality preschool to low-income 3- and 4-year olds in certain targeted school districts in Connecticut.
“We know that low-income children who have not had access to high-quality preschool face greater challenges in comparison to their wealthier peers who have had high-quality preschool experiences,” said Myra Jones-Taylor, commissioner for the state Office of Early Childhood. “It is high-quality early care and education programs, like the School Readiness Program, that bring us closer to closing the achievement gap.”
The expansion of 1,020 opportunities is part of a five-year plan to expand the School Readiness Program to serve a total of 4,010 additional children by 2019.