Pre-K

In New York City, children begin pre-K in the calendar year they turn four. Scroll down and watch our video series to learn more about pre-K admissions.

Happening Now

If your child was born in 2017, we have a pre-K seat for your child! You can participate in the pre-K process by adding your child to programs' waitlists in MySchools.

Families that applied to pre-K this winter received pre-K offers in May. Waitlist offers will continue throughout the summer, and you can still participate in the pre-K process by adding your child to programs' waitlists.

Don’t have a MySchools account or need support? We’re here to help! You can also get your child’s offer, learn about waitlists, and accept or decline offers by calling 718-935-2009 or emailing ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov.

New to NYC or Missed the Pre-K Application?

It's not too late to participate! Add your child to pre-K programs’ waitlists today.

For news and updates, sign up for the pre-K admissions email list.

We're looking forward to welcoming your family to pre-K this fall. And for those already attending a program, we look forward to better supporting your family's needs. Please complete this survey to help us understand how best to incorporate your voice in our birth-to-five planning process: bit.ly/returnNYC

Need a pre-K placement now? Learn what to do on the New Students page.

Summer Events

If your child doesn’t have a program or school yet for the fall, or if you’ve recently moved and need a new placement, we’re here to help. All NYC families with children born in 2016, 2017, and 2018 are invited to join us this summer for a virtual information session. 

During each event, we will discuss: 

  • How to learn about schools and programs 
  • How to add yourself to programs’ waitlists 
  • How waitlists work and how to navigate them in MySchools 
  • How to accept waitlist offers

After the presentation, we will respond to your questions. Please note that the content of each event is the same, but the language supports provided at each will differ. 

Event Date and Time How to Attend Languages
August 11, 1pm-2pm
  • Event will be held in English
  • For interpretation in Mandarin during this event, call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 586 830 506# 
  • For interpretation in Spanish during this event call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 721 806 059# 
  • For interpretation in Urdu during this event call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 322 559 456#
August 25, 5pm-6pm
  • Event will be held in English
  • For interpretation in Haitian-Creole during this event, call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 397 004 858# 
  • For interpretation in Korean during this event call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 259 218 651# 
  • For interpretation in Russian during this event call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 114 904 177#
August 31, 1pm-2pm
  • Event will be held in English 
  • For interpretation in Arabic during this event, call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 559 742 48# 
  • For interpretation in Bangla during this event call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 268 944 792# 
  • For interpretation in French during this event call +1 347-966-4114 | Phone Conference ID: 706 381 633# 

Who Can Apply?

All NYC families with four-year-old children (including residents who have temporarily moved out of New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic) can apply to pre-K programs. There is a public school pre-K seat for every eligible four-year-old. Children do not need to be toilet trained to attend pre-K.

We welcome current 3-K students at public district schools, Pre-K Centers, and NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs); current students in three-year-old programs at charter schools, private schools, parochial schools, or other preschools; children with disabilities; children with accessibility needs; children learning English; children in temporary housing; LGBTQ and gender nonconforming children; and children who are new to NYC public schools.

Find Programs

Children who attend free, full-day, high-quality pre-K learn through play, build skills, and work together—learn more about the benefits of pre-K.

Your Pre-K Choices

Use MySchools to search for and explore pre-K program options. MySchools provides the most up-to-date information about pre-K programs. During the application period, you can also use MySchools to submit your child's application.

Pre-K Program Settings

Families can choose from three types of settings for pre-K programs:

1. NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs). These are community-based organizations with early childhood expertise. They partner with the DOE to provide pre-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 pre-K programming, all year round for families that qualify: see the Enrollment for Head Start & Other Pre-K Extended Day/Year Programs section 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.
    • Pre-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 public elementary schools offer pre-K programs. Consider these DOE public schools if your child currently attends 3-K at the school, 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 your child currently attends 3-K at the Pre-K Center, or you want your child to attend a program with only young children.

Half-Day or Charter School Pre-K Programs

You can also find half-day pre-K programs and charter school pre-K programs in MySchools. However, these programs have separate pre-K admissions processes. Call these programs directly to get more information and learn how to apply.

Dual Language Programs and Language Supports

Some pre-K options also offer a Dual Language program. In these programs, students are taught in two languages: English and a target language. Learn more about specific Dual Language programs in MySchools and by contacting pre-K programs directly.

Some NYC Early Education Centers offer language supports to families whose home language is a language other than English. Language supports include:

  • A staff member who is fluent in the target language and is available to support families
  • Interpretation services at family meetings
  • Translated communications in the target language
  • Teaching staff who support the continued development of both English and the target language during instruction

Learn about pre-K programs offering language supports in MySchools, and contact programs directly to learn more. Dual Language programs and pre-K programs offering language supports give priority to students based on their home language. For more information about Dual Language programs or programs with language supports, email prekduallanguage@schools.nyc.gov.

Programs Serving Students with Disabilities

All pre-K programs serve children with and without disabilities. If your child has an IEP (Individualized Education Programs) that recommends a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) and/or Related Services only, these services can be provided at all pre-K programs, or at home under certain circumstances. If your child has an IEP that recommends "Special Class in an Integrated Setting" (SCIS) or "Special Class," the CPSE will arrange for an appropriate placement in a preschool special education program. These classes are available at community-based special education programs, and at some Pre-K Centers and DOE public schools. Learn more about how the DOE serves students with disabilities at schools.nyc.gov/SpecialEducation.

Pre-K Program Quality

The Pre-K Quality Snapshot is one important way to learn about and understand different elements of quality at Pre-K for All programs across New York City. The Pre-K Quality Snapshot is meant to help you choose the program that best meets your child's and family's needs. As you search, be sure to select the "Pre-K" option. Learn more about the Pre-K Quality Snapshot in our Family Guide.

You can also learn about program quality by:

  • Visiting programs (when buildings are open)
  • Asking questions of pre-K leaders and teachers
  • Talking to other families

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 pre-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 pre-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 pre-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.

Pre-K admissions is not first come, first served, and you can make changes to your application any time before the application deadline. All applications submitted by this deadline are treated the same based on the following three admissions factors:

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

Admissions Factor: Your Application Choices

The programs that you add to your child's application and the order in which you place them matter!

  1. Choose up to 12 programs that you'd like your child to attend.
  2. Add them to your application, placing programs in your true order of preference, with your first choice at the top as #1. Some pre-K providers offer more than one program at a site location, so be sure to add the correct program—such as a Dual Language program—to your application.

Your child will be considered for admissions at each program you list on your application. They will get one offer to the pre-K program you listed highest that also has an open seat. If your child does not get an offer to a program listed on your application, they will get an offer to the closest available program.

Programs' Seat Availability

Each pre-K program has a certain number of available seats. Programs vary in size, and many have more applicants than seats. If a program has more applicants than seats, admissions priorities are used to make offers.

Types of Admissions Priorities

Your child has a better chance of getting into some programs than others. When a program can't make offers to applicants, offers are made based on which children have the highest admissions priority to attend that program.

  • Children are considered in priority groups, and all students in the first priority group are considered first.
  • If seats are available, children in the second priority group will be considered next, and so on.

Program demand varies greatly. Some programs admit applicants from most or all priority groups, while others only admit applicants from their first priority group.

Current-Student Priority

If your child is currently enrolled at a program that you apply to, they have priority at that program. If you would like your child to remain at the program, be sure to list the program on your application and indicate that your child is a current student.

Sibling Priority

If your child's sibling attends a program that you list on your application, they have a higher chance of getting an offer to that program. A sibling is defined as an applicant's brother or sister, including half-brothers, half-sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, foster brothers, and foster sisters who live in the same household. Sibling priority will only be granted in cases where either of the following applies: the applicant's sibling attends the school now and will still be enrolled in September 2021, or the applicant's sibling is pre-registered for September 2021. This includes siblings enrolled in District 75 programs in the same building.

District Priority

New York City has 32 school districts. Your school district is determined by your home address. Your child may have priority to attend programs at DOE public schools and Pre-K Centers in the school district where your family lives.

Zoned Priority

  • Most families in NYC have a zoned elementary school. This means that children who live in the zone, or area around a school, have priority to attend that school. If you have zoned DOE public school that offers a pre-K program, your child will have priority to attend that program.
  • You can look up your child's zoned school (if they have one) and your school district at Find-a-School or by calling 311.
  • Families living in Districts 1, 7, and 23 do not have a zoned school—children living in these districts have priority to attend all schools in the district.

Diversity in Admissions Priority

The DOE is committed to creating and supporting learning environments that reflect the diversity of New York City. We believe all students benefit from diverse and inclusive schools and classrooms. Pre-K programs across the city are participating in an initiative to increase diversity by giving admissions priorities for a certain percentage of seats to specific groups of children, such as low-income students, students in temporary housing, Emergent Multilingual Learners, and other groups. The current list of pre-K programs participating in this initiative, as well as details about each priority, is available on the Diversity in Admissions Page.

Admissions Priorities for Each Pre-K Setting

NYC EARLY EDUCATION CENTERS

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

  1. Children who currently attend the center's 3-K for All or other three-year-old program
  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 pre-K program
  4. Children who speak a language other than English that the center specializes in serving, if applicable
  5. All other children

DISTRICT SCHOOLS (Zoned Schools)

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

  1. Children who currently attend 3-K for All at the school*
  2. Children who live in the zone and have a sibling at the school
  3. Other children who live in the zone
  4. Children who live in the district and have a sibling at the school
  5. Children who live outside the district and have a sibling at the school
  6. Other children who live in the district
  7. Other children who live outside the district

DISTRICT SCHOOLS (Non-Zoned Schools)

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

  1. Children who currently attend 3-K for All at the school*
  2. Children who live in the district who have a sibling at the school
  3. Children who live outside the district who have a sibling at the school
  4. Other children who live in the district
  5. Other children who live outside the district

PRE-K CENTERS

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

  1. Children who currently attend 3-K for All at the Pre-K Center (If applicable)
  2. Children who live in the same district as the Pre-K Center
  3. Children who live outside the district

What happens if a program has more current student applicants than seats?

If there are more current student applicants than there are available seats in a pre-K program, current students will receive offers to that pre-K program based on admissions priorities in the order outlined in the 2nd-7th priorities for zoned schools, in the 2nd-5th priorities for non-zoned schools, or in the 2nd-3rd priorities for Pre-K Centers.

Watch this animation to learn how children, including pre-K applicants, get offers to NYC public schools:

How to Apply

During the pre-K 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 Pre-K for More than One Child

If you are applying to pre-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: Pre-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 pre-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 & Other Pre-K Extended Day/Year Programs section of this page to learn more.

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

Get Your Pre-K Offer

Pre-K offers for children born in 2017 were released in May.

All families who submitted a pre-K application by the deadline received a pre-K offer letter in the spring. This letter included your child's pre-K offer and said where your child is waitlisted. 

Accept Your Offer

Secure your child's seat by accepting your pre-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 waitlisted at another program or programs.

Waitlists

Programs use waitlists to fill open seats after offers are made.

  • Your child will be automatically added to the waitlist for any program you ranked higher on your pre-K application than the program where your child got an offer.
  • You can also add your child to additional program's waitlists: this is optional.
  • Programs will contact you directly if they are able to offer your child a seat from the waitlist.
  • Learn more on our Waitlists page.

Students Who Move During the Admissions Process

If your family moves during the admissions process, call 718-935-2009 or email ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov to update your information and talk about changes to your pre-K application or program. Your child’s priority to attend certain programs may change if you move.

Transportation

In New York City, enrollment in a pre-K program does not include school bus service. Only children who are eligible for specialized transportation will get bus service.

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

Who is Eligible?

Head Start and other Pre-K extended day/year programs are available for four year olds to families that qualify for free or low-cost care. Eligibility is based on your family's income and needs. Head Start and Extended Day/Year programs can enroll children at any time throughout the year, if your family is eligible.

These programs are offered in NYC Early Education Centers and may also serve infants, toddlers, and three-year-olds. To learn more, visit our Infant & Toddler and 3-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 Pre-K Extended Day/Year Programs

Your family may qualify for other 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 you 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 pre-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 pre-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 "More Filters" and select the "Head Start or Other Extended Day/Year" option under the Eligibility section.
  • For Head Start, apply directly to the program.
  • For other 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 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 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: Kindergarten Admissions

Start thinking about kindergarten programs when your child is enrolled in pre-K or when they are four years old. In New York City, children are eligible to apply to kindergarten in the calendar year they turn five. Every child in NYC whose family submits a kindergarten application is guaranteed a kindergarten offer. Students enrolled in certain pre-K programs may have priority to attend kindergarten at the same school.

Documents

Understand the information provided in Pre-K Quality Reports by reading this helpful guide:

Use this Registration Checklist to learn what to provide or bring when you register your child for pre-K.
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