April 2023

Early Childhood Poverty Tracker: Spotlight on Education; Participation in NYC’s 3-K for All Program

3-K and Pre-K programs are critical to improving equitable early childhood outcomes, especially for families living in poverty.

Contributors: Jill Gandhi, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Chloe Cargill, Eunho Cha, Mikayla Greeley, Matthew Maury, Kathryn Neckerman, Schuyler Ross, and Jane Waldfogel

Issues Areas: Education, Households With Children

Early Childhood Poverty Tracker data finds that participation in New York City’s 3-K and Pre-K programs enable parents to work, pursue education, and provide enriching environments that ensure New York’s youngest have a sure step toward kindergarten readiness and future success. 3-K for All, which aims to provide every three-year-old child in New York City with free, full-day early childhood education, was rolled out in 2017. The Poverty Tracker collected data from 2017 through 2021 on how families searched for, applied, and enrolled in 3-K Programs.

Some highlights of the report include:

  • Many families living in poverty want to enroll their children in 3-K programs but do not end up doing so: Families living in poverty expressed the greatest interest in applying for 3-K (64%) but had the lowest rates of enrollment (15%). Black and Latinx parents experienced greater drop-off rates between interest and enrollment, compared to white parents.
  • Families who enrolled in a 3-K program had much lower childcare costs than those who did not, saving an average of $450 a month.