Where do moderate-income folks send their kids to preschool in Boston?

I've been running into this a lot lately with the families I work with. Many of the families make too much money for Head Start – their income guidelines require families to be below $13,690 for a family of two or below $20,650 for a family of four, for instance, which means that pretty much any family with one or more parent working full time isn't eligible, unless they have a lot of kids.

Then there are a few of the more-daycare-like preschools around, which are of greatly varying quality, and many of which don't offer an option for attending any fewer hours than five days a week 9-5 sort of hours. These are affordable, but again, not what the families are looking for who want a developmentally appropriate program but can flex their hours and don't need full-time childcare.

Boston Public Schools is aiming to provide a K1 (4- and 5-year-olds, two years before they start first grade) seat for every student by 2010, but that hasn't happened yet. K0 (3- and 4-year olds, three years before they start first grade) seats are even more sparse. For kids who don't automatically get a K0 or K1 seat due to having special education needs, this means highly competitive lotteries.

Aside from Head Start, BPS, and the daycares, about the only thing that seems to be available to families for 3- and 4-year-olds are programs that literally cost as much as many colleges and/or require students to be put on the waiting list as infants. Does anyone know why this is? Why doesn't Boston seem to have any community-center-basement sort of preschools? You know, the kind that working families send their kids to? All of the surrounding towns of various income levels seem to have plenty of these, but not Boston. If there are any, why don't the families or the staff at my program know about them?


adamg said...

Well, the Ohrenberger Community Center in West Roxbury has a very nice pre-school program (speaking as somebody whose kid attended). And there's not five-day-a-week requirement and the rates were pretty reasonable. The West Roxbury/Roslindale Y also has something similar.

The problem, naturally, is that there aren't enough slots for all the kids whose parents want to get them in.

eeka said...

That's almost the burbs!

Yeah, not enough slots, and it's quite a hike from the denser areas of town where I have tons of people looking for preschools. That's what we keep finding; anything we can find has a waiting list and is in the burbs or almost in the burbs.

Barbara from Dorchester said...

What about the Ashmont Nursery School?


eeka said...

Hi Barbara. Thanks for your comment. I just checked out the website, and I actually had no idea that the Ashmont Nursery School is basically affordable. The families I work with who are sending their kids there all seem to have quite a bit of money and were looking at other $15K/year preschools, so I'd just assumed it was one as well. Thank you so much!

Any idea what the waiting list is like?