NEW YORK (WABC) -- It may only be spring, but for parents of children going to Pre-K this fall in New York City, the application process is well underway.
All New Yorkers born in 2013 are eligible for the city's Pre-K program, and as of Thursday morning, a lot of them now know where they're headed.
"I am pleased to tell you that you have received your first choice for Pre-K, PS 516," Mayor Bill de Blasio said to a mother.
For Stephanie Brito, a single mom, Pre-K is a dream come true. It's free school and day care while this single mom works and goes to college, she has a lot on her plate.
"Yeah it is sometimes. I ask myself how I do it, but I haven't given up yet," Brito said.
"But this is going to help?" Eyewitness News said.
"For sure, 100%. It makes it easier. For example, I can drop him off before I go to school," Brito said.
For the mayor, Pre-K for all has been a big hit.
When he started three years ago, about 19,000 kids were enrolled.
Last year, more than 68,000 signed up.
And this fall it'll go even higher.
"One of the ways you can tell if something is working is if you hear complaints. I don't hear complaints," Mayor de Blasio said. "I go all over the city, town hall meetings and all, I don't hear complaints about Pre-K. It's actually working."
We won't know for several years if Pre-K actually makes for better students down the line, but school officials say they already know that Pre-K makes school a heck of a lot less scary later on.
"We're seeing kids are more self-confident. And not as scared coming to school," said Carmen Farina, NYC Schools Chancellor. "If you've already been there as a 4-year-old and you've seen school as a play center and a place to make friends, you're much more excited to come back as a kindergartner and into first grade."
Families can apply to the Pre-K program in one of three ways: online at www.nyc.gov/prek, over the phone by calling 718-935-2067, or in person at one of the DOE's 12 Family welcome Centers. The application is translated into nine languages, and additional translation services are available over the phone in more than 200 languages. There are enough free, full-day, high-quality seats to meet the demand of every 4-year-old in New York City.
Families begin receiving Pre-K acceptance letters in NYC
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