Adams Accused Of Axing Pre-K And 3-K: Budget Cuts Near Half A Billion

February 27, 2024

A new Department of Education budget analysis from the Independent Budget Office (IBO) finds that Mayor Adams’ pre-K and 3-K cuts total $399 million dollars. 

The Day Care Council of New York (DCCNY) and New Yorkers United for Child Care (NYUC) call for the Mayor to restore funding cuts and reprioritize rolling out the full universal child care for 3-K. 

The Independent Budget Office analysis finds that “In total, reductions to the pre-K and 3-K budget have amounted to […] $399 million in 2025.” While Mayor Adams’ PEG cuts to the city’s pre-K and 3-K programs in the past year amounts to a $170 million loss of funding, this IBO report reveals the Mayor’s most recent reductions to funding are part of a larger campaign of early childhood cuts that span back to November 2022. 

The IBO report also notes differences between the rollout of Pre-K (which began rolling out in 2014) and 3-K (which began rollout in 2021) programs. Notably, the brief points out an absence of “large scale media campaign for enrollment during initial expansion[.]”  Mayor Adams has publicly retreated from the city’s commitment to full universal 3-K and has been accused of defunding and mismanaging Universal Pre-K

The Mayor is making these cuts despite the city’s Pre-K being lauded as a model for the nation and despite the well-known benefits of Universal Child Care. Research conducted by the Robin Hood Foundation revealed that mothers residing in school districts with greater 3-K availability were more likely to participate in the labor force, particularly in full-time employment. Similarly, in Canada, the nationwide rollout of $10-a-day daycare has resulted in significant benefits for workforce retention.

Notably, these cuts include a $93 million funding shortfall for Pre-K and 3-K, and a $96 million reduction in preschool special education all on the chopping block with the loss of federal COVID stimulus funding.

DCCNY and NYUC demand that Mayor Adams prioritize the full rollout of 3-K for All and begin to explore options to expand these popular programs to all kids under 5. 

Jesus Bracamonte, a member of New Yorkers United for Child Care, lives in Long Island City and is a father of two girls, aged 2 and 3. Jesus says, “ The Mayor’s cuts to 3-K and Pre-K feel like a huge betrayal. It’s not like things have been getting any more affordable. Between rent, groceries and regular day care, I thought I could rely on at least saving the cost of  3-K and 4-K. My oldest child is enrolled in 3-K right now and it’s made a huge difference for our budget, saving us $30,000 a year. But with after-school and my 2 year old’s day care, we still pay more than $31,000 a year. My wife and I don’t know what we’d do if we couldn’t get our kids into 3K and PreK. The Mayor should be expanding these programs, not eliminating them.”

Tara N. Gardner, Executive Director of the Day Care Council of New York “We’ve long known that early investment in children pays dividends – parents can go to work, and children develop their readiness for school building vocabularies and social skills. With child care costs still unaffordable for many families–and with early childhood professionals already struggling to make ends meet–the cuts to Pre-K and 3-K will make it difficult for families and educators to live and work in the city.”

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