State Education Department

Oversight of the Expansion of the Universal PreKindergarten Program

In 1997, the New York State Legislature established the Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) program, administered by the State Education Department (SED), to provide all four-year olds in the State with the opportunity to benefit from an early education experience. School districts that elect to participate in the UPK program receive funding for every four-year old, up to a budgeted number, enrolled in an approved program overseen by the district. The UPK program was to be phased in over four years, with funding expected to increase from $67 million in the1998-99 school year to $500 million in the 2001-02 school year when all the State’s 700 districts would be eligible to participate. However, funding has been at risk in each year of the expansion. Our audit found that many eligible districts (61 percent in 2000-01) have elected not to participate, and that some participating districts have not been able to enroll as many children as were funded. New York City schools filled a higher percentage of funded slots than schools in the rest of the State. Some districts do no participate or fill all funded slots because existing PreKindergarten services are considered sufficient. However, in many other instances, districts do not participate or fill slots because they lack classroom space, lack community-based providers, or lack adequate assurance about the level of funding that will be available to support UPK. Our visits to selected UPK providers found that they comply with UPK requirements for curriculum content and child health and safety.

For a complete copy of Report 2000-S-13 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.