PHILADELPHIA – In celebration of the start of a new PHLpreK program year, students at a North Philadelphia early education center started their first day with a visit from Mayor Jim Kenney.

Yesterday, the Mayor joined students at Children’s Garden, at 841 E. Hunting Park Ave. to celebrate the eighth program year of this transformative program, which has provided free pre-K for more than 16,000 of the city’s three- and four-year-olds since Mayor Kenney’s administration launched the program in 2017.

The youngest learners sat patiently on a colorful mat in a semi-circle around the mayor as he read “Little Pencil Finds His Forever Friends,” and “Pete the Cat,” He also participated in a corresponding craft, coloring shoelaces.

Children’s Garden is one of 227 locations where families can enroll in the city’s free, quality pre-K for three- and four-year-olds.

This year, PHLpreK is launching with more providers and more seats than at any time since its inception in 2017. With 950 seats added, the program is ready to serve 5,250 students throughout the city.

“Philadelphia families understand that quality pre-K and child care programs promote healthy growth and development, and prepare children for success in school,” said Mayor Kenney. “This latest expansion of the City’s PHLpreK program will allow all of our great providers to continue to provide free, high-quality learning services to even more children and families in Philadelphia. I am overjoyed to see this program continue to grow and welcome new young learners every year.”

Children’s Garden has been in business for over 24 years, with two participating centers in the city’s PHLpreK program. At this location, there are two classrooms of three- and- four-year-olds.

It has serviced more than 140 PHLpreK children and families. While it has operated the Hunting Park location for more than 15 years, this is the site’s first year participating in the PHLpreK program.

“We’re so excited to have Mayor Kenney join us on the first day of school at the Hunting Park location,” said Diane Barr, President and Owner of Children’s Garden. “Because this program has been such a lifesaver for many children and families, we’re thrilled to extend the PHLpreK program at another one of my locations.”

PHLpreK is the City of Philadelphia’s free, quality pre-K program that gives children a strong foundation for their education. Funded by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, PHLpreK is helping families across Philadelphia access affordable, quality early childhood education opportunities. To sign up for PHLpreK, interested families can call (844) PHL-PREK or visit to find a current provider and enroll.

Click here for images.  Photos attached. Photo credit: Matthew Boncek for the City of Philadelphia.