Healey expands universal pre-k across 8 Massachusetts school districts

Universal pre-k in Massachusetts took another step forward Tuesday, with the state expanding funding for the program across eight school districts.

“We know that the high cost of child care is holding back our families, our providers and our economy from their full potential,” said Gov. Maura Healey. “That’s why we have been focused on expanding access to affordable, high-quality preschool, creating new seats for children in Gateway Cities and rural communities across the state.”

The school districts will receive $1.7 million in Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (CPPI) grants to expand seats and access to preschool programs for all families.

The Healey administrations launched the “Gateway to Pre-K” initiative earlier in the year, committing to expanding universal affordable preschool for all 4-year-olds in 26 cities in Massachusetts by 2026. This investment builds on $16.4 million invested in expanding universal pre-k this fiscal year, and with these new grants, 19 of the 26 cities are now receiving CPPI grants expanding preschool access.

Six districts included in Tuesday’s announcement — in Gloucester, Haverhill, Holyoke, Hoosac Valley, New Bedford and Westfield — will expand their existing universal pre-k programs, adding a total of 259 seats in public and community-based preschool programs.

The remaining two districts in Chicopee and Taunton will receive $50,000 each to draft a plan and work through early implementation for their universal pre-k programs, including putting together a needs assessment, leadership team and community partners.

The CPPI grants work with a range of early education programs to meet the different needs of families, including special education programs. The grants also provide funding for scholarships for working families to receive low or no cost preschool.

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