Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson and Mary Cariola Preschool Announce Increased Tuition Reimbursement Rates; Allowing Them to Continue Operating

Rochester, NY Mary Cariola’s transformative preschool has secured a long-awaited increase for their tuition reimbursement rate.

Mary Cariola’s program currently serves 85 preschool-aged children with multiple complex and significant cognitive developmental and medical needs, with a waiting list of over a hundred eligible applicants. There is currently no other program in the county, or the surrounding region, able to meet the needs of these students.

“Mary Cariola is an invaluable resource in our community. Their work truly reflects my core belief that no matter who you are, what you look like or what your abilities, we all have dignity and deserve equity, justice, and the opportunity to succeed. I am proud that this exceptional preschool program will be able to continue educating our most vulnerable students due to the increased tuition reimbursement rate from the state,” said Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson, D-138.

Inadequate reimbursement rates placed Mary Cariola’s preschool in danger of closure, which would have left dozens of children in Monroe County and the surrounding 10-county Finger Lakes Region without a comprehensive educational option in their most formative years.

Families and students who rely on Mary Cariola not only for education, but for support, guidance, additional services, and community, would be destabilized.

“This long-awaited rate increase means a great deal to the preschool staff and families of Mary Cariola as well as our community. It will allow Mary Cariola Center to continue to provide the necessary services in the manner in which we were founded nearly 75 years ago. Our students, families and staff are grateful to the Greater Rochester-Monroe County Delegation for their efforts and continued support of our preschool and school age programs,” said Karen Zandi, Mary Cariola President & CEO.

The Greater Rochester-Monroe State Delegation supported Mary Cariola’s efforts to secure an increased tuition reimbursement rate and petitioned the Governor directly to consider the long- term impact of a potential closure, including costly educational interventions for these students later on.

"Mary Cariola is a vital asset to Monroe County and the Finger Lakes region at large. The services they provide to our children with disabilities and their families are invaluable, and without Mary Cariola, many of these children would go without access to any preschool programming. This is why I am so proud to support their work by being a vocal advocate for this preschool reimbursement rate increase. I am grateful for their work on behalf of people with disabilities, and look forward to the ongoing successes of our partnership,” Assemblywoman Jen Lunsford, D-135.

The increased tuition reimbursement rate, which was determined with input from the State Education Department and approved in the State budget, will bring tremendous benefit to this community. It will enable Mary Cariola to operate proportionate to all current students’ IEP requirements, without sacrificing services. They will also be able retain staff and ensure enhanced instruction.

At a press conference held today in one of the Mary Cariola preschool classrooms, parents, Mary Cariola leaders and advocates, and state legislators shared stories of what this program means for their families and this community.