3-K

In New York City, you can apply to 3-K in the calendar year that your child turns three. If you have a child born in 2018, you can apply now for 3-K programs that begin in fall 2021 . Scroll down to learn more about 3-K admissions.

Happening Now: Apply to 3-K!

The 3-K application is open, and the deadline to apply is April 30. Here's how to get started and apply:

  • Visit MySchools to create your MySchools account, explore 3-K program options, build your application, and apply online.
    • Our MySchools tutorial, "How to Create a MySchools Account" will walk you through the process.
    • Learn more about 3-K admissions on this page and in the video playlist above.
  • Sign up for the 3-K admissions email list. We'll let you know when the application opens and send you updates, tips, and reminders throughout the process.

Who Can Apply?

Apply to 3-K the year your child turns three. Children born in 2018 can apply now to begin 3-K programs in September 2021.

All children of this age who are also NYC residents (*including residents who have temporarily moved out of New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic*) are welcome to apply, including children currently attending EarlyLearn or other preschool programs, children with disabilities, children with accessibility needs, children learning English, students in temporary housing, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming children, and children who move to NYC during the admissions process. Children do not need to be toilet trained to attend 3-K.

3-K for All Programs

Families citywide can apply to 3-K for All, but seats are limited and residents of school districts offering 3-K for All programs have priority to attend programs in their own districts. In fall 2021, 3-K for All programs will be offered in: Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6 (Manhattan); 7, 8, 9, and 12 (Bronx); 14, 16, 19, 23, and 32 (Brooklyn), 27 and 29 (Queens), and 31 (Staten Island). Find your school district by using the  School Search map tool or calling 311.

Extended Day/Year and Head Start Programs

In all 32 school districts, there are 3-K programs available to families who qualify based on income and needs. These programs, including Head Start, are free or low-cost and offer care all year round for up to 10 hours a day.

Find Programs

3-K for All brings free, full-day, high-quality education to three-year-old children in New York City— learn more about the benefits of 3-K

Your 3-K Choices

Use MySchools to search for and learn about 3-K programs. During the application period, you can also use MySchools to submit your child's application.

3-K Program Settings

Families can choose from four types of settings for 3-K programs:

1. NYC Early Education Centers. These are community-based organizations with early childhood expertise. They partner with the DOE to provide 3-K programs.

  • Consider NYC Early Education Centers if your child currently attends the center, has a sibling also attending the program, or your family receives social services from the organization that runs the center.
  • Some NYC Early Education Centers also offer up to 10 hours of 3-K programming, all year round for families that qualify: see the Enrollment for Head Start & Other 3-K Extended Day/Year Programs section of this page to find out more about whether your family may be eligible.
    • Head Start: Free services are available for at least 8 hours per day, all year long, including the summer. Head Start programs help families achieve their own goals, including employment, housing, and adult education.
    • 3-K Extended Day/Year: Free or low-cost services are available for up to 10 hours a day, all year long, including the summer.

2. District Schools. Some DOE public elementary schools offer 3-K programs. Consider this option if your child has an older sibling already attending the school, or you want your child to attend a program in an elementary school setting.

3. Pre-K Centers. Pre-K Centers are run by DOE staff and only offer grades before kindergarten. Consider Pre-K Centers if you want your child to attend a 3-K program with only young children.

4. Family Child Care (Home-Based Programs). Home-based programs, also known as family child care programs, offer 3-K in a home setting by a licensed, qualified, child care provider.

  • In this setting, 3-K children are served in mixed-age groups with other children from birth to three years old.
  • These programs are consistent with 3-K programs offered in center-based and district school settings, and are overseen by the Department of Education and a Family Child Care Network organization that provides instructional resources, coaching, and family support.
  • Families may choose to enroll their children in home-based early childhood programs because of their many unique strengths:
    • Children can form strong relationships with caregivers by continuing in the same program from six weeks to three years old.
    • Children can interact with other children, including siblings, in a mixed-age setting.
    • Children can begin their early education in a familiar setting before transitioning to center- or school-based pre-K, if that is the family's preference.
    • Families can have access to programs that offer longer days and years to meet the needs of work or school schedules.
    • Families can find programs that are conveniently located close to home, work, or school.
    • Families may find that home-based programs best reflect the language and culture of their community.
  • Like center- and school-based programs, home-based 3-K programs help children learn, grow, and explore the world around them. Home-based programs use DOE-approved curriculum, and the providers receive professional learning and coaching to support quality play-based instruction.

Voucher Options

Interested families can apply for a child care assistance voucher from the Administration for Children's Services (ACS). Child care assistance vouchers have the same eligibility requirements as extended day/year programs.

Voucher availability is dependent upon funding. At this time, due to high demand, eligible families requesting vouchers will be placed on a waitlist. If your family is interested, you should complete the Voucher Waitlist Request form.

Families on the voucher waitlist will be notified by ACS when additional funds are made available and are encouraged to consider additional options if your child needs care now, such as 3-K programs. Enrolling your child in another program will not impact your place on the voucher waitlist.

Learn About Programs' Virtual Events and Resources 

Many schools and programs are not hosting in-person events at this time due to the ongoing pandemic. We encourage you to visit programs’ websites or contact programs directly to learn more about them and find out if they are hosting any virtual open houses or information sessions, or if they have other resources to share with prospective families.

When buildings are open and able to safely host outside visitors, visiting a 3-K program is a great way to explore if it may be the right place for your child. Virtual tours also provide a way to imagine what attending that program would be like.

When visiting a 3-K program virtually or in person, consider asking staff members questions about the program, such as:

  • How will the teachers learn about my child's interests, strengths, and needs?
  • How will your program help children get to know the teachers and the other staff?
  • How would you describe the community of teachers and families here?
  • How do teachers work with families?
  • How do teachers guide children's behavior?
  • How will staff members make sure my child feels safe and cared for?
  • What are your program's strengths? What are you working on improving?
  • How do teachers support children who speak a language other than English at home?

Learn How Children Get Offers

How can you know your child's chances of getting an offer from one of your favorite programs? It helps to start by learning how offers are made. Children get 3-K offers based on three key factors:

  1. Your application choices
  2. Program's seat availability
  3. Admission priorities

3-K admissions is not first come, first served, and you can make changes to your application any time before the April 30 deadline.

Admissions Priorities for Each 3-K Setting

NYC EARLY EDUCATION CENTERS

Applicants receive offers to 3-K programs at NYC Early Education Centers in the following order:

  1. Children currently enrolled at the NYC Early Education Center
  2. Children who have siblings enrolled at the NYC Early Education Center
  3. Children whose families currently get free or subsidized social services from the organization running the center's 3-K program
  4. Other children who live in the district*
  5. All other children

*The priority is not applicable for Extended Day/Year and Head Start seats.

DISTRICT SCHOOLS - Zoned Schools

Applicants receive offers to 3-K programs at zoned schools in the following order:

  1. Children who live in the zone and will have a sibling at the school
  2. Other children who live in the zone
  3. Children who live in the district and will have a sibling at the school
  4. Children who live outside the district and will have a sibling at the school
  5. Other children who live in the district
  6. Other children who live outside the district

DISTRICT SCHOOLS - Non-Zoned Schools

Applicants receive offers to 3-K programs at non-zoned schools in the following order:

  1. Children who live in the district who will have a sibling at the school
  2. Children who live outside the district who will have a sibling at the school
  3. Other children who live in the district
  4. Other children who live outside the district

PRE-K CENTERS

Applicants receive offers to 3-K programs at Pre-K Centers in the following order:

  1. Children who live in the district and who will have a sibling at the Pre-K Center
  2. Children who live outside the district and who will have a sibling at the Pre-K Center
  3. Other children who live in the district
  4. Other children who live outside the district

Watch this animation to learn how students of all ages get offers to NYC public schools:

How to Apply

The 3-K application is open through April 30, 2021.

During the application period, families can apply one of two ways:

  1. Online with MySchools. Apply online in English, Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Chinese, Haitian Creole, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, or Urdu.
  2. By phone at 718-935-2009. Interpretation services are available in more than 200 languages for over-the-phone applications. You can ask questions and request information about admissions in any language when you call.

Families Applying to 3-K for More than One Child

If you are applying to 3-K for more than one child and want your children to attend the same program, you can apply for all children at the same time. First, create your MySchools account. Then add all your children to your MySchools dashboard. After all children have been added to the dashboard, make sure to list which children are multiples (such as twins or triplets) when submitting your application.

Tip: 3-K admissions is not first come, first served! You can make changes to your application any time before the deadline. All applications submitted by this date are treated the same based on admissions priorities.

Need Care Now?

Some 3-K programs can enroll children at any time throughout the year, if their family is eligible based on income and needs. See the Enrollment for Head Start and Other 3-K Extended Day/Year Programs section of this page to learn more.

If you have questions about 3-K admissions, email ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov .

Get Your 3-K Results

Families that submit an application by the deadline will get their 3-K results letter in the late spring. This letter will also tell you where your child is waitlisted. Due to limited seat availability, only some applicants will get a 3-K offer.

Accept Your Offer

  • If your child gets a 3-K offer, secure your child's seat by accepting your 3-K offer by the deadline provided in your offer letter. The program will work with you to register your child.
  • Be sure to accept your offer even if you are hoping for a waitlist offer from another program.

Waitlists

A 3-K program has a waitlist when there are more students that apply to it than 3-K seats available.

  • If we are unable to make your child an offer, they will be placed automatically on the waitlist of each program you listed on their application.
  • If your child receives an offer to a program that was not your first choice, they will be automatically placed on the waitlist for any program(s) that you listed higher on your 3-K application than their offer program .
  • If your child receives an offer to your first-choice program, they will not be placed on any waitlists.

Programs will contact you directly if they are able to offer your child a seat from the waitlist.

Students Who Move During the Admissions Process

If your family moves during the admissions process, call 718-935-2009 or contact a Family Welcome Center to update your information and talk about changes to your 3-K application or program. Your child’s priority to attend certain programs may change if you move.

Enrollment for Head Start & Other 3-K Extended Day/Year Programs

Who is Eligible?

In all school districts, 3-K programs are available to families who qualify based on their income and needs. These programs, including Head Start, are free or low cost and offer care all year round for up to 10 hours a day. If your family qualifies, you can enroll your child at any time throughout the year.

These programs are offered in NYC Early Education Centers and may also serve infants, toddlers, and four-year-olds. To learn more, visit our Infant & Toddler and Pre-K pages.

Head Start

The best way to find out if your family is eligible for Head Start is to contact a program directly. Your family may qualify for Head Start if at least one of these categories applies to you:

  • You live in temporary housing
  • You receive HRA Cash Assistance
  • You receive SSI (Supplemental Security Insurance)
  • You are enrolling a child who is in foster care
  • Your family income falls below a certain amount

Other 3-K Extended Day/Year Programs

Your family may qualify for other 3-K extended day/year care if at least one of these categories applies to you:

  • You are enrolling a child who is in foster care
  • You are enrolling a child with an active Child Welfare case, preventive and/or protective
  • You receive public assistance and are compliant with HRA's work activities
  • Your family's income falls below a certain amount AND have an approved "reason for care":
    • You work 20+ hours per week
    • You are in an educational or vocational training program
    • You have been looking for work for up to 6 months
    • You live in temporary housing
    • You are attending services for domestic violence

These 3-K extended day/year programs are funded by the Federal Child Care and Development Block Grant. Because of the requirements of this Federal funding, you must provide proof that your child is a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident or refugee to be eligible for these particular programs. Documentation is only needed for the child in need of child care; you will not be asked for the immigration status of anyone else in your household, including your status. Documentation for the child in need of care can be one of the following: a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, alien registration card (including permanent resident or green card), or Form FS-240 (report of birth abroad of a U.S. citizen).

The DOE is committed to welcoming all children and families, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, into our schools and programs. Families do not need to provide proof of citizenship or immigration status to attend any other 3-K, Pre-K, Head Start or Early Head Start programs. If your family is unable to meet the extended day/year documentation requirements listed above, the DOE will help you explore any available program alternatives that meet the needs of your family.

How to Apply

Head Start and other 3-K extended day/year programs can enroll children at any time throughout the year, if your family is eligible.

  • Visit MySchools to find a program near you. Go to the "More Filters" tab and select the "Head Start or Other Extended Day/Year" option.
  • For Head Start, apply directly at the program.

For other 3-K extended day/year programs, you can apply through the program or by contacting a DOE Family Welcome Center.

Special Referrals

There are a few instances where a different process is needed to apply:

  • Families applying for or receiving cash assistance must apply for care at their Human Resources Administration (HRA) Job Center.
  • Families with an active Child Welfare case, preventive and/or protective, must contact their case worker to make a Child Care subsidy referral.
  • Employed foster parents must contact their case worker to make a Child Care subsidy referral.

All families, including families that may need one of these referrals, can contact a DOE Family Welcome Center or call 311 to get help with finding a program and completing the Child Care subsidy application.

Plan for Next Year: Pre-K Admissions

Pre-K for All helps ensure that all children have a strong start in school and life!

Start thinking about pre-K programs when your child is enrolled in 3-K or another three-year-old preschool program, or when they are three years old. In New York City, children are eligible to apply to pre-K in the calendar year they turn four. Every child in NYC whose family submits a pre-K application is guaranteed a pre-K offer.

  • Students enrolled in certain 3-K or three-year-old programs may have priority to attend pre-K at the same center or school. Learn more on the Pre-K page.
  • If your child is currently in Early Intervention, to learn more about your preschool options by visiting the Moving to Preschool page.
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