EarlyLearn

Preschool children and their teacher build with blocks in their classroom.

Infant and Toddler Programs

New York City provides a number of free or low-cost EarlyLearn programs for families that qualify. These programs provide early care and education for children from birth to two years old, all year round for up to ten hours a day. Eligibility is based on your family's income and needs. If you qualify and there is a seat available, your child can begin a program anytime during the year.

Infant/Toddler Extended Day/Year Programs

Extended day/year programs provide early care and education services for up to 10 hours a day. These programs are available in two settings:

  • Center-based care for children aged six weeks to four years old.
  • Home-based care for children aged six weeks to three years old through family child care networks.

Early Head Start

Early Head Start programs provide early care and education that supports the whole family. Early Head Start programs serve pregnant mothers, infants, and toddlers. Head Start programs provide services for at least eight hours a day all year round.

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 in your child needs care now, such as EarlyLearn programs. Enrolling your child in another program will not impact your place on the voucher waitlist.

Who is Eligible?

Our infant and toddler programs are available for families that qualify for free or low-cost care. Eligibility is based on your family's income and needs.

Infant/Toddler Extended Day/Year Programs

Your family may qualify for infant/toddler extended day/year programs 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.

Early Head Start

The best way to find out if your family is eligible for Early Head Start is to contact a program directly. Your family may qualify for Early 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

How to Apply

Admissions for our infant and toddler programs are year-round. Your child can enroll in a program any time, if you are eligible and there is a seat available.

  • Visit MySchools to find an infant and toddler program near you.
  • For Early Head Start, apply directly through the program.
  • For Child Care, you can apply directly through the program. All new applications and rectifications can be mailed to:
NYC DOE - Office of Student Enrollment
PO BOX 377

Maplewood, NJ 07040

Or scan and email your application to earlylearn@schools.nyc.gov.

Questions? Send an email to earlylearn@schools.nyc.gov.

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 through 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 Family Welcome Center or call 311 to get help with finding a program and completing the Child Care subsidy application.

Questions About Our Infant and Toddler Programs?

Call 311 or contact a Family Welcome Center . We can answer your questions about early childhood care and education and help you explore your options.

Options for Three- and Four-Year-Olds

Interested in other free, full-day, high-quality programs for children who are three and four years old? If your child was born in 2016, you can apply for 3-K. If your child was born in 2015, you can apply for pre-K. Visit MySchools to learn more about different programs.

Learn when and how to apply:

  • Call Us

    Call Monday-Friday (8am-6pm), Saturday-Sunday (9am-1pm) at 718-935-2009.

  • Get Support

    Family Welcome Center staff are here to help! We will make every effort to reply within 48 hours.

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