Massachusetts Introduces Universal Preschool Program

by | Nov 13, 2023 | Children |

The City of Cambridge in partnership with Cambridge Public Schools will be introducing the Cambridge Preschool Program (CPP), previously known as Universal Preschool (UPK), which will provide free school-day, school-year preschool to every 4-year-old and some 3-year-olds living in Cambridge. CPP will introduce a single application for families to apply to a variety of preschool settings in Cambridge, including programs at CPS, the City of Cambridge Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP), and community-based programs. Families will have the option of selecting extended day and summer preschool programs for an additional cost. The CPP universal application will launch this winter for enrollment in the 2024-2025 school year. Cambridge children who will be 4 years old by August 31, 2024 will be eligible to apply, as will children who will turn 3 years old by August 31, 2024 and who meet specific eligibility requirements.

The new universal application will replace CPS’s current 3-year-old lottery and Junior Kindergarten Lottery, the City’s DHSP Preschool Lottery, and the OEC’s scholarship application process. A separate lottery process will be held for Kindergarten enrollment. The City continues to make significant investments in the Cambridge Preschool Program, including adding key staff members to support the initiative and an allocation of $10 million toward a stabilization fund to help mitigate the budget impact of implementing UPK, which is projected to be approximately $20 million to support City and community programs.

The CPP program aims to center equity in access, deliver high-quality programming, and prioritize early educator compensation and support. Dr. Lisa Grant, Office of Early Childhood Executive Director, said they aim to be a national model for best practice in building early childhood systems. Cambridge City Manager Yi-An Huang stated that they are committed to ensuring every 4-year-old in Cambridge has access to high-quality education and to make universal preschool a reality for families in Fall 2024. Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui said that every child in Cambridge deserves access to preschool regardless of their family’s income status and universal preschool has been a priority for many years.

Cambridge Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Victoria L. Greer said that delivering high-quality early learning experiences for preschool students will be a game-changer for families, and they are incredibly grateful for the community’s support as they move forward with this historic investment in young people. Families can visit the Cambridge Office of Early Childhood’s website for more information and future updates about the Cambridge Preschool Program.

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