The Pre-K Shuffle

I’m currently trying to figure out a plan for Pre-K for my son. I thought I had it all figured out, but things fell through. 

Here’s the conflict:

In NYC, public pre-k is free and open to any child born in 2006. However, there not enough slots for every child in the city to attend Pre-K. This is not that bad because there are many day care centers and private schools that have Universal Pre-K programs. However, entry into these schools is done by lottery, with preference given to children who reside in the district. You can select up to 12 schools and wait and hope that your child not only get into one of your top choices, but into any school at all. They let you know up front that they do NOT guarantee placement.  They notify parents of placement about two weeks before children need to register. Ok…

The affordable Pre-K programs at various centers or those run by Community-Based Organizations are a slim option because they reserve most of their slot for children in the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) system or Human Resources Administration (HRA). The former are usually foster children, abused children, etc. The latter are children whose parents are on welfare or are so low-income they qualify for financial assistance for childcare from the city.  The reserve these slots for them because that money is guaranteed and they receive incentives for accepting more of those children.  That leaves private payers like us out of those affordable options. Ok…

Specialized schools are an option, but there is a lottery there too AND they cost more money than I’d feel comfortable paying. However, those lotteries aren’t fair lotteries and it is really about who you know. We could pull some strings, but I know I’d always feel bad about going about it the “wrong” way.

Private schools cost a GRIP!! One places was $383/week, another $1700/month. And this is for 9-3. Extra if you need coverage from 8-6.  Whoa… Ok…

The main issue: I’m moving. I’m not renewing my lease and my heart is set on moving one state over. Its a lower cost-of-living, it gives me more distance from his father, its a new fresh environment; I can truly start over. However, with this Pre-K situation in limbo, I’m not sure I can do that. For the public lottery, I put schools by my job and schools by his dad’s home and job. I dont LIVE in any of the districts though, so I’m not feeling too great about this. The schools by my job are SO amazing!!! It would mean G living with me full time though, which wasnt the original plan.  It would be a dream to get him in there, but its highly unlikely. The schools by his dad are so-so, but I figure its only Pre-K so he won’t suffer too much. PLus that would go along with the plan for his dad to keep him until he starts Kindergarten, giving me time to get settled, hit the reset button, and get things in line for him.

This is stressing me out!!! All this just to make sure your kid is on the right path. Jumping through hurdles, possibly sacrificing peace of mind, just so he gets off to the right start. Boys have it harder as it is… so I’m being really proactive about this. I just want what’s best for my son and my city is leaving me few viable options. Too rich to be poor, too poor to be rich! I think he will thrive in any environment, but I can tell more and more that he needs to be challenged.

What 3 y/o responds, “Why… certainly, mommy” when you ask if he would like something to drink??

Crossing my fingers and waiting for August…