2022 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Long Island Regional Technical Assistance Center
Jacob Dixon, Center Coordinator and CEO, Choice for All
Nearly a decade ago, community and educational leaders from across Nassau and Suffolk counties united to address a mounting crisis threatening the future of preschool on Long Island. Together, they formed the Long Island Pre-K Initiative with the mission of identifying challenges and developing strategies to meet those challenges.
Among the Initiative’s top priorities was to tackle the disproportionately low amount of state aid allotted to Long Island schools. While 100 percent of four-year-olds in New York City had access to state-funded, full-day pre-kindergarten programs, only 10 percent of that same population on Long Island had access to comparable programming. For five years, the educational leaders in the Pre-K Initiative argued their case before legislators in Albany, eventually garnering nearly half a million dollars in state funding.
Eventually, the Pre-K Initiative evolved into the Long Island Regional Technical Assistance Center (LIRTAC). The center quickly grew with the help of numerous collaborating partners, including: Child Care Councils of Nassau and Suffolk counties; Choice for All; Nassau, Eastern and Western Suffolk BOCES; The Long Island Regional Early Childhood Career Development Center and the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at CUNY.
During the global COVID pandemic, the LIRTAC hosted a virtual conference, securing an unprecedented amount of state funding to expand pre-k programs on Long Island. The center helped local districts to prepare for the expansion: planning new programs and instruction; supporting district outreach by facilitating partnerships with community-based organizations; providing teacher training on best practices; assisting in the recruitment of quality staff; and providing technical assistance in accessing state aid.
Florence Barbour, Executive Director of Harbor Child Care, and Michael Nagler, Superintendent of the Mineola UFSD, credit the LIRTAC with paving the way for collaboration between community-based educational programs and school districts.