STATE HOUSE — Governor Dan McKee, the RI Department of Education (RIDE), RI Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Children’s Cabinet announced the first step of Rhode Island’s plan to reach 5,000 Pre-K by 2028: A series of public feedback sessions to gather community input on the new Working Draft Report and Preliminary Recommendations for Expanding RI Pre-K.
“Access to high-quality early learning is essential for all children to have an opportunity to thrive and succeed – it's also crucial for Rhode Island’s economic success,” said Governor Dan McKee. “As we consider how best to expand RI Pre-K, we must ensure that we are truly meeting the needs of families and strengthening the birth through five system as whole. That’s why community and family input is so important to this process.”
The FY23 Enacted State Budget charged RIDE -- in partnership with DHS and the Children’s Cabinet -- with developing an RI Pre-K expansion plan to reach 5,000 RI Pre-K seats by 2028. An interagency RI Pre-K team has developed a Working Draft Report and Preliminary Recommendations on RI Pre-K Expansion for public comment and feedback. This working draft has been developed with input from providers, families, advocates, and other stakeholders as well as prior reports and national research. The goal of this document is to provide a preliminary draft for the community to react to and provide feedback on to inform the final report.
“The House and Senate worked collaboratively with Governor McKee in crafting the state budget and we all prioritized the expansion of Pre-K opportunities as a vital component toward improving educational outcomes. We are proud to have invested additional funding and resources to ensure that learning begins at an early age,” said Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi.
President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio said, “Putting Rhode Island on a path to universal pre-K was a top priority for the Senate during the 2022 session. Pre-K expansion will help us build a brighter future Rhode Island and give all our children the best possible chance for success in school and in life. Feedback from families, communities, and key stakeholders will make clear just how transformative this initiative can be for our state, while helping ensure we take the best possible approach moving forward.”
RI Pre-K is top-ranked nationally for quality, meeting ten out of ten quality benchmarks from the National Institute on Early Education Research (NIEER). Currently, Rhode Island has over 2,300 RI Pre-K seats serving four-year-olds in 18 communities and is delivered through schools, child care centers, and Head Start agencies.
“Learning starts at birth and RIDE is committed to expanding our top-ranked RI Pre-K program in a way that closes opportunity gaps in early learning. This working draft focuses on equity in particular for our multilingual learners and for differently abled students,” said RIDE Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “We welcome all feedback and input on this report and look forward to working with the community to continue to build a strong, cohesive early learning system.”
“The Children’s Cabinet is focused on interagency collaboration to make systems and programs work better for children and families,” said Acting EOHHS Secretary and Chair of the Children’s Cabinet Ana Novais. “The preliminary recommendations in this draft are a great example of how we can leverage the expertise, systems, and funding across agencies to meet the needs of children and families. We encourage everyone – families, providers, educators, and community members – to review the draft and share your thoughts.”
“DHS is committed to supporting the mixed-delivery system and increasing access to high quality child care for low-income families,” said Acting DHS Director Kimberly Brito. “We are proud to partner with RIDE and the Children’s Cabinet to develop the working draft. Community input is vital to ensuring that the final document sets our state on a strong trajectory for growing RI Pre-K in the years to come.”
The Working Draft Report and Preliminary Recommendations for RI Pre-K Expansion can be found here. Members of the public are encouraged to review the report and share feedback:
· Submit written feedback via an online survey form: https://forms.gle/xRW4H1SB9PmeUr666
· Participate in upcoming public feedback sessions about the plan via Zoom:
· Tuesday, November 1, 2022, 3 to 4 p.m. EST
· Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 9 to 10 a.m. EST
· Zoom Meeting Information: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84654314291