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RI Pre-K Lottery opens up for families across Rhode Island

Program Expands to 48 Sites in 16 Communities & Adds 334 New Seats


PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), in partnership with Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Department of Human Services, announced today newly awarded RI Pre-K classrooms and the opening of the lottery for the state-funded RI Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) program for the 2020-2021 school year. Parents and families must submit their applications by July 5, 2020 in order to be considered for one of the free seats.

Through a combination of federal and state funding, Rhode Island’s Pre-K program will be expanding by 17 new classrooms and 334 seats, growing from 13 to 16 communities. By leveraging a competitive, federal Preschool Development Grant, the state will be able to expand its 2020-2021 Pre-K total from 78 to 95 classrooms serving 1,754 four-year old children statewide.

“Rhode Island is continuing to lead the way in providing high quality Pre-K programs to our littlest learners, and I am excited that we will be able to offer more than 300 children that opportunity through this federal grant,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Now more than ever, it’s important that we give our kids a strong start in school and prepare them for a life of learning. These new Pre-K programs will help our students perform better throughout their academic careers.”

Earlier this year, Rhode Island was rated as one of the four top states for quality Pre-K by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

The RI Pre-K Program is accepting applications from families with four-year old children living in one of 16 eligible communities: Central Falls, Coventry, Cranston, East Providence, Johnston, Middletown, Newport, North Kingstown, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Warren, Warwick, Westerly, West Warwick, and Woonsocket.

“Getting children started in a Pre-K program is a powerful tool to prepare them for success across their entire educational experience,” said Angélica Infante-Green, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “These learning opportunities are one way that we are building equity into everything we do at RIDE, helping make our goal of Excellence in Education a reality for every student in Rhode Island.”

“The State’s commitment to high quality childcare and learning for all of our youngest residents has never wavered, and this expansion is proof of that,” said Courtney E. Hawkins, Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS). “At DHS, we will continue to do our part with family and provider resources and support. Together is how we achieve success.”

Note on Public Health-Related Planning: RIDE is working with Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Health to develop plans for the safe opening and operation of all schools in the fall, including conducting Pre-K programs via distance learning if necessary, as has taken place this spring.

The 17 new Pre-K classrooms include:

  • Central Falls: Progreso Latino and The Children’s Workshop
  • Coventry: Washington Oaks Elementary School (Coventry School Department)
  • East Providence: The Children’s Workshop
  • Johnston: Over The Rainbow
  • Middletown: East Bay Community Action Program
  • North Kingstown: Sunshine Child Development Center
  • North Providence: Dr. Daycare
  • Pawtucket: Dr. Daycare and Heritage Park YMCA
  • Providence: Beautiful Beginnings, The Children’s Workshop, Over the Rainbow, and Charles Fortes Elementary School (Providence Public School District)
  • Westerly: Tri-County Community Action Agency

Lottery details include:

  1. To be eligible for Pre-K enrollment, children must turn 4 years of age on or before September 1, 2020, and live in the community in which the Pre-K program is located.
  2. When possible, lottery applications should be completed using the online lottery system. Completed RI Pre-K lottery paper applications may be returned to the program of choice if that program is open to accept paper applications. Applications should not be submitted to the Rhode Island Department of Education.
  3. Applications will be accepted through 11:59 pm on Sunday, July 5, 2020.
  4. A copy of birth certificate, proof of residency, and proof of family total income will be required upon enrollment. Family total income must be verified to match what is reported in the application in order for child enrollment to be completed.
  5. When completing an application for communities that have more than one RI Pre-K program, families must prioritize their top three choices. If selected, families will have the option of accepting that seat or being added to the waitlist for another program within that community.
  6. Only one application per child will be accepted. Application information and program selections will be entered into the online lottery system. Once uploaded, a confirmation email will be sent. If families do not receive a confirmation email, they should follow up with the program.
  7. Families should be notified through email and phone call by the selected program whether their child has been selected by July 15, 2020.
  8. Each classroom will enroll 18 to 20 children. Children will be assigned to classrooms in their community of residence either through the lottery or based on a waitlist.

RI Pre-K is fully inclusive and supports the learning and development needs of all children. Parents of English learners and differently abled students are encouraged to enter the lottery. State-funded Pre-K programs were identified through a competitive process that evaluates the organization’s ability to provide a high-quality program. Families should contact the RIDE Pre-K team at RIPre-K@ride.ri.gov with any questions.

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