By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Parents in southwest Brooklyn who are finding the process of enrolling their four-year-olds in pre-kindergarten classes to be overwhelming can breathe a sigh of relief. Help is on the way.
Councilmember Mark Treyger and Assemblyman William Colton are hosting a pre-k enrollment specialist from the New York City Department of Education, who will come to Treyger’s district office in Gravesend on Monday, Aug. 11 to answer questions from nervous parents and walk them through the process.
The expert will be in Treyger’s office, located at 2015 Stillwell Ave., from 4 to 7 p.m. on Monday.
The visit was timed so as to not interfere with parents getting their other children home from school.
The specialist will help parents enroll their children for free pre-k programs in local public schools or community based organizations for the 2014-2015 school year.
Interpreters will be available to assist residents who speak Spanish, Russian, or Chinese.
“As a former educator, I am thrilled that our city is making these vital pre-kindergarten programs a priority for our children. This is a great opportunity to give your child a head start and a great foundation for their education,” said Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), a former high school civics teacher.
“I am hosting this service to make sure that every family has the information needed to make an informed decision for their child and get them enrolled in a program for the coming school year. Anyone who hasn’t yet located a suitable program should stop by Monday’s information session for information about the different options available for local families,” Treyger said.
All children who live in New York City and were born in 2010 are eligible for the universal pre-k program.
The New York Daily News reported in May that 98 percent of the available pre-k seats in the city’s public schools have been filled.
Still, there are many parents who have yet to enroll their children because they are either unaware of the program or find the enrollment process confusing.
Colton (D-Gravesend-Bensonhurst), a seasoned member of the assembly, helped secure the $300 million in state funding in the budget to provide universal pre-k classes to the city’s children.
Pre-k classes for all was a hallmark of Bill de Blasio’s campaign for mayor last year. The mayor wanted to fund the program by taxing the rich, a move that would have required permission from Albany. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature agreed on a state budget that funded pre-k with existing monies, avoiding a tax on the wealthy.
Colton said the fight for pre-k funding was worth the effort because data shows that children benefit from the classes later on.
“Scientific studies and educational experts have agreed that pre-k classes greatly improve the quality of learning for young children, and will provide a foundation that will continue to benefit students throughout their school careers. Pre-kindergarten programs increase children’s ability to function at school, gives them the foundation that they need in order to be successful, and that will help them in the later years of their education,” said Colton, who has served in the assembly for nearly 20 years.
For more information on the pre-k assistance program on Aug. 11, call Treyger’s office at 718-307-7151.