New York City is offering free schooling to thousands of children born in 2020 in its 3K program. Parents in the South Bronx are especially urged to apply before the March 10 deadline.

Last year, 55,000 seats in 3K programs were offered across all five boroughs. Many seats designated for the Mott Haven and Hunts Point communities remained available: 42% out of 1301 in 2022. The chances of locating a spot are excellent this year. 

Studies show that 3K programs, focused on 3-year-olds, help develop educational and social skills. This prepares them for pre-K schooling, which typically involves 4-year-olds, and then kindergarten programs. 

Research also indicates that children who attend these schools tend to perform better in primary school and even high school.  While entry to city-funded 3K programs is limited in 2023 to 55,000 students citywide, pre-K and kindergarten are designed for all children.

3K programs are offered in several types of settings. Some programs in District 7 are run directly by the Department of Education.These reside in local primary schools and also in public schools serving only 3-5 year olds. Other 3K programs funded by the city are housed in community-based schools and other community settings operated by individuals and nonprofits.

All provide care and educational experiences that run the length of a typical school day, while some offer extended day and extended year programs. Some accomodate children with handicaps. 

Many programs have openings and would be happy to show visitors around.  Sometimes, parents can ask to place their child in a 3K program in a school district other than where the family lives.

Here’s a NYC Department of Education video explaining more about 3K programs and offering a glimpse into them.

The Education Department website describing program options and linking to the application form can be found here.  A city hotline to ask questions about the rules and application process operates Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm at 718-935-2009.


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