New York City offers free or low-cost child care and educational options for children from eligible families. EarlyLearn programs are available for infants and toddlers (ages six weeks to 2 years old). 

Watch these videos and keep reading this page to learn about early childhood programs, eligibility, and more.

EarlyLearn - Programs for Children 6 Weeks - 2 Years Old

New York City provides a number of free or low-cost 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 Programs

Infant/Toddler programs provide child care services for infants and toddlers 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.

To learn about eligibility for Infant/Toddler programs and enroll, contact us at CCapplication@schools.nyc.gov.

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 and provide services for at least eight hours a day, all year round.

To learn about eligibility for Early Headstart programs, contact these programs directly.

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.

For Early Head Start Programs

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

For Other Extended Day/Year Infant/Toddler Programs

Your family may qualify for these programs if your family's income falls below a certain amount and have an approved "reason for care." This reason must be at least one of the following:

  • You work 10+ hours per week
  • You are in an educational or vocational training program
  • You have been looking for work
  • You live in temporary housing
  • You are attending services for domestic violence

How to Apply

Admissions for EarlyLearn 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 other Extended Day/Year Infant/Toddler options, you must apply directly through the program. All new applications and recertifications should be emailed to CCapplication@schools.nyc.gov. If your program is unable to email your application, your program can send it to this address:
333 7th Ave 12th Floor

New York, NY 10001

Questions? Send an email to ccapplication@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 call 311 to get help with finding a program and completing the Child Care subsidy application.

For Centers Submitting or Following Up on Cases

The following guidelines allow our staff to provide you and families with the best possible support:

  • Please submit cases one at a time, with all documents attached for that specific case.
  • In the subject line of your email, please include the following
    • Parent name
    • Case number, if known
    • Program name/number
  • When requesting a status updates, please reference the date of the original submission, as well as the information included in the subject line (see bullets above)

Questions About EarlyLearn ?

Call 311 or email us at ccapplication@schools.nyc.gov. 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 2018, you can apply for 3-K. If your child was born in 2017, you can apply for pre-K. Visit MySchools to learn more about different programs.

In addition, families needing extended day/year care beyond the school day can apply for Extended Day/Year programs, including Head Start. These programs provide care all year round for up to 10 hours a day. Eligibility for these programs depends on income and other factors.

  • To apply for Head Start programs, contact those programs directly.
  • To learn more about other Extended Day/Year options, eligibility, or how to apply, email us at CCapplication@schools.nyc.gov.

2022 NYC Public Schools Admissions Guide

View or download the new 2022 NYC Public Schools Admissions Guide! This book provides an overview of admissions processes and resources for EarlyLearn (childcare for eligible families), 3-K, pre-K, kindergarten, middle school, and high school, including a section on how to use MySchools.

  • Print copies are available in 10 languages at schools, early childhood programs, libraries, and other sites now. 
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