By: Savannah Scarborough, Writer / Follow South Jersey Community Services Intern
TRENTON, N.J. — On December 21, Governor Phil Murphy announced the state’s planned $10 million investment in Preschool Education Aid to implement and expand quality early childhood education programs in ten additional school districts throughout New Jersey starting February 1.
Before this new investment, certain New Jersey school districts have received Preschool Expansion Aid. Schools have received this aid if they have partial state funding or are based in communities with at least 20 percent of their student population receiving free or reduced-price lunch.
Gov. Murphy’s new investment will assure New Jersey residents and families that he prioritizes the youth’s future and education. Additionally, the $10 million investment will ensure more children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. These districts include schools within Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Hunterdon, Monmouth, Ocean, Salem, and Somerset counties.
This investment is a part of New Jersey’s four-year commitment to invest in their youngest learners by expanding the high-quality preschool program.
“In New Jersey, we know that quality early education paves the path toward success for our children,” Gov. Murphy said in a press release.
New Jersey’s government committee believes that investing in early childhood education is also an investment in the state’s future. With high-quality childhood education comes increased rates of admission and acceptance into higher education systems.
Studies have proven that early childhood education leads to long-lasting benefits. Preschool in particular allows children to grow by promoting educational, emotional, and social development, boosting cognitive and motor skills, and preparing and setting them up for future academic success.
A significant aspect of this investment is the expansion and increase of the number of preschool seats in the awarded school districts while also enhancing their existing seats. Now that the state investment for high-quality preschool education has been approved, New Jersey has created nearly 65,000 seats for students.
Also, enrolled preschool students are now provided with full-day programs with a certified teacher, an aide, small classes inclusive of children with special needs that require individualized education programs, and anchor school services in research-based practices.
Members of the Education Committee and others are thankful for Gov. Murphy’s decision to invest additional money in the childhood education system.
“We are ecstatic that the Governor has made high-quality early childhood education a priority again this year,” Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillian, New Jersey’s acting commissioner of education, said in a release.
“I am grateful for Governor Murphy’s continued commitment to investing in our youngest learners,” Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, who also serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee, added in a release. “I look forward to the day when every child in New Jersey has access to universal preschool.”
With this investment, New Jersey will see significant improvements shortly for the youth and their education and all of New Jersey for many years to come for all communities.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.