EarlyLearn NYC

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

EarlyLearn NYC: Child Care and Head Start

EarlyLearn NYC is free or low-cost child care and education for children from six weeks to four years old. Hundreds of locations across NYC offer these programs. There are two types of EarlyLearn NYC programs: Child Care and Head Start. 

These programs, currently provided through the Administration for Children's Services (ACS), offer:   

  • Quality programming and family engagement 
  • Opportunities for children to play, learn, and build the skills that get them ready for kindergarten and beyond 
  • Safe, positive learning environments  
  • Care five days a week, up to ten hours a day, 12 months of the year 
  • Experienced and certified teachers 
  • Free, nutritious meals and snacks 
  • Care for children with special needs 
  • Access to community resources such as dental and medical screenings 

EarlyLearn programs have income or other eligibility requirements. If you qualify, your child can begin a program any time during the year.  


Child Care (Children 6 weeks – 3 years) 

EarlyLearn NYC Child Care 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. 

Head Start (Children 3 – 4 years) 

EarlyLearn NYC Head Start programs provide early care and education that supports the whole family. Head Start programs provide services for at least eight hours a day. Head Start programs are available in centers for children aged three to four years old. 

There are also limited spaces available in Early Head Start programs, which serve pregnant mothers, infants, and toddlers. 


Who is Eligible for EarlyLearn NYC? 

EarlyLearn NYC is available for families who qualify for free or low-cost care. Eligibility is based on your family's income, size, and needs.  

Child Care 

Find out if you may qualify for Child Care by using the Childcare Eligibility Wizard:

You may be eligible if you receive Cash Assistance and have an approved “reason for care.” Acceptable reasons for care include:  

  • You are in a Human Resources Administration (HRA) approved work, education, or training activity 
  • You are looking for work and have an approved work search plan and proof of receipt of unemployment insurance  
  • You live in temporary housing  
  • You are enrolling a child who is in foster care  

Head Start 

The best way to find out if your family is eligible for Head Start is to contact a program directly. You are automatically eligible if one or more of these categories applies to you:  

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

Find EarlyLearn NYC Programs 

  • Type your home address into the 311 website to find a child care program near you:
  • Use Early Learn 3s Finder to find Child Care and Head Start programs for three-year-olds:
  • Call programs directly to learn about their availability and requirements. 

Apply to EarlyLearn NYC Programs 

EarlyLearn NYC admissions are year-round. Your child can enroll in a program any time, if you are eligible. Learn how to enroll by contacting programs directly.  

Interested in other free, full-day, high-quality programs for children who are three and four years old? If your child was born in 2015, you can apply for 3-K. If your child was born in 2014, you can apply for pre-K. Visit our 3-K and Pre-K admissions pages to learn when and how to apply:


Questions About EarlyLearn? 

Call the DOE Outreach team at 212-637-8000 or visit a Family Welcome Center. We can answer your questions about early childhood care and education and help you explore your options.  

Find Family Welcome Center locations and hours:

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