PATERSON, NJ- An effort to increase Pre-K enrollment among three and four year old Paterson children is working, according to a report by the Paterson Alliance.

The “Think Pre-K” campaign, initiated by the Paterson Alliance, and funded by The Nicholson Foundation, set a goal of increasing enrollment by 100 more registrations on October 15, 2017 than on the same date a year previous. Through a three-pronged approach, which included creating a map to show where spaces existed compared to where eligible children reside, launching a strategic outreach campaign in four languages, and placing nine “navigators” across Paterson to help parents better understand the value of early childhood education, the campaign exceeded its goal with enrollment increasing by 337 children.

While studies show that children who attend pre-K are more prepared for kindergarten and do better in school the impact goes well beyond academics. “Every dollar spent on early childhood education saves $7 on social service costs in later years,” said Inge Spungen, Director, Paterson Alliance. However, whether it’s issues of logistics related to getting children to school, culture, or lack of spaces in proximity to their home many parents still are not enrolling their children.

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“We hope to continue our initiative to help people find good programs in their area and to support availability citywide,” Spungen continued.

In speaking of leveling the academic playing field among students in Paterson over those in more affluent communities Mayor Jane Williams-Warren said that “opportunities for our children when receiving early education are endless, this is what our children need to be competitive.”