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Alyssa Milano's picture

As the mother of two precious children, I know just how important the first years of life are. Milo, 5 and Elizabella, 2, are like little sponges. Every day they absorb new words, new skills and new ways of navigating this world that will serve them for a lifetime.

As an advocate for mothers and children throughout the world, I want to applaud New York City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio. In less than three years in office, his administration added full-day, high-quality and free Pre-K for All.

Now, the Mayor is going a step further, announcing 3-K for All, free, full-day high-quality education for every three-year-old in New York City.

This is going to have an amazing effect on New York’s children. Studies show that kids who receive high-quality, full-day Pre-K at four are healthier and do better throughout their academic careers. Those who start a year earlier than that, at three, see even greater results.

But the people I thought of right away when I heard about what the Mayor was doing were the mothers and fathers of those children and how this program will truly help families thrive.

Every year of full-day Pre-K saves a New York family around $10,000. That means so much in a city where nearly half the population is at or near the poverty level. That money means groceries. It means rent. It means a new winter coat. It means medicine. And as someone who was born in Brooklyn and spent most of my time in Staten Island public schools, I understand that it means increasing your chances of providing your child with a healthy, happy life.  

It also means mothers and fathers have more time and more energy to pursue their own goals. A quarter of all parents whose kids are enrolled in public Pre-Kindergarten will be able to work more hours a week and earn around $2,500 more a year. Other parents will use the extra time to add to their education, or start a business.

This isn’t just compassionate. It’s common sense. I hope the rest of the country follows New York City and makes early childhood education the norm, not the exception.

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