Philadelphia/ Community & Society
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Published on May 08, 2024
Philadelphia Mayor Announces $3M Boost for Pre-K Educators and Unveils 'Free Philly Pre-K' Portal at Annual Citywide Play DateSource: Jared Piper/PHLCouncil, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Philly's children and those who teach them were the focus at the second annual Citywide Play Date, where Mayor Cherelle L. Parker laid out plans to beef up the city's pre-K education. She announced a $3 million investment to provide a financial boost to early childhood educators with signing and retention bonuses – Lead Teachers can now expect up to an additional $2,000, and Assistant Teachers up to $1,500 if they agree to stay on the job for the next school year, as reported by the City of Philadelphia's official website.

In what seems to be an effort to intensely prop up those at the frontline of education, summer training for teachers and coaches is also part of the multi-million dollar package. These trainings aim to equip educators with the necessary skills to support children grappling with trauma, mental, and behavioral challenges. Attendees will receive a stipend for their participation. "We are here today to recognize some of Philadelphia’s most dedicated teachers, celebrate our preschoolers, and demonstrate the commitment we have to the next generation of our great City," Mayor Parker told attendees, emphasizing the administration's dedication to early learning.

Also on the Mayor's agenda is the introduction of "Free Philly Pre-K," a unified application portal designed to make it easier for parents to enroll their youngsters in public preschool programs. Developed in collaboration with the School District of Philadelphia and federal partners, the portal is set to streamline the process for families citywide. Mayor Parker's office has confirmed that the Free Philly Pre-K portal will go live on June 3, 2024, supporting 12 languages and showcasing all 370 public preschool locations in Philly.

Beyond bureaucratic announcements and digital platforms, the Citywide Play Date served as a hub for family engagement and resource sharing. The event, sponsored by Philadelphia System of Care and the City's Office of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy, offered city department resources, interactive dance, face painting, balloon art, and performances. Philly's beloved Eagles Swoop and cheerleaders were also there to pump up the celebration. Vanessa Garrett-Harley, Chief Deputy Managing Director for the Office of Children and Families, expressed enthusiasm at the gathering, stating, "It is a pleasure to host the Citywide Play Date for the second year in a row and provide the space and opportunity to celebrate our early childhood educators and preschoolers with fun games, photo ops, and food, and to let them know how committed this administration is to their growth."