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.
New to NYC public schools and need a pre-K program for your child now? Learn what to do on our New Students page.
Questions? We're here to help! Call 718-935-2009, get support from a Family Welcome Center, or emails us at ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov.
Who Can Apply?
All NYC families with four-year-old children can apply to pre-K programs. There is a pre-K seat for every four-year-old in New York City. Children born in 2017 are currently attending pre-K during the 2021-2022 school year. This year, families with children born in 2018 can apply to pre-K and enter programs in fall 2022.
We welcome all children of this age to participate in pre-K admissions: 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. Children do not need to be toilet trained to attend pre-K.
Please note: Families who are temporarily living outside of NYC due to the ongoing pandemic but whose primary residence is in NYC are eligible to participate in admissions this year.
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 add programs to your child's application and submit it.
- There are three different pre-K program settings: NYC Early Education Centers, district elementary schools, and Pre-K Centers. Learn more in the Pre-K Program Settings section below.
- One program may offer up to three seat types, which differ in hours and eligibility requirements. When applying to that program in MySchools, be sure to add the seat type(s) you want and are eligible for to your child's application. Learn more in the Pre-K Seat Types section below.
Pre-K 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.
You can also learn about program quality by:
- Visiting programs
- Asking questions of pre-K leaders and teachers
- Talking to other families
Pre-K Program Settings
There are three types of settings for 3-K programs. You can choose to apply to programs in one, two, or all three settings. Each setting offers the same DOE high-quality, play-based curriculum to New York City’s four-year-old children:
- 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 Pre-K Extended Day and Year Seats and Head Start Seats section to find out more about whether your family may be eligible.
- 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.
- 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.
Pre-K Seat Types
There are three pre-K seat types: Full Day, Extended Day and Year, and Head Start. A pre-K program may offer one, two, or all three of these seat types. You can learn which programs offer which seat types in MySchools. Different seat types have different eligibilities, so check to make sure you are applying to the seat type(s) you want and are likely eligible for.
- Full Day seats are free and provide early care and education for 6 hours and 20 minutes a day during the school year, typically from September to June.
- Extended Day and Year seats are free or low cost and provide early care and education for up to 10 hours of care a day, year-round, including the summer. Eligibility for these seats is based on family income and needs. If you receive an offer to an Extended Day and Year seat, you will need to confirm your child’s eligibility by completing a Child Care application.
- Head Start seats are free and provide up to 10 hours of early care and education a day, year-round. Eligibility for Head Start is based on family income and needs. If you receive an offer to a Head Start seat, the program will work with you to confirm your child’s eligibility.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Visit Program's Websites and Attend Open Houses
We encourage you to visit programs’ websites or contact programs directly to learn more about them and find out if they are hosting any in-person or virtual open houses or information sessions, or if they have other resources to share with prospective families.
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:
- Your application choices
- Programs' seat availability
- 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!
- Choose up to 12 programs that you'd like your child to attend.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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:
- Children who currently attend the center's 3-K for All or other three-year-old program
- Children who have siblings enrolled at the NYC Early Education Center
- Children whose families currently get free or subsidized social services from the organization running the center's pre-K program
- Children who speak a language other than English that the center specializes in serving, if applicable
- All other children
District Schools (Zoned Schools)
Applicants receive offers to pre-K programs at zoned schools in the following order:
- Children who currently attend 3-K for All at the school*
- Children who live in the zone and have a sibling at the school
- Other children who live in the zone
- Children who live in the district and have a sibling at the school
- Children who live outside the district and have a sibling at the school
- Other children who live in the district
- 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:
- Children who currently attend 3-K for All at the school*
- Children who live in the district who have a sibling at the school
- Children who live outside the district who have a sibling at the school
- Other children who live in the district
- Other children who live outside the district
Applicants receive offers to pre-K programs at Pre-K Centers in the following order:
- Children who currently attend 3-K for All at the Pre-K Center (If applicable)
- Children who live in the same district as the Pre-K Center
- 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:
- Online with MySchools. Apply online in English, Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Chinese, Haitian Creole, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, or Urdu.
- 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 Pre-K Extended Day and Year Seats and Head Start Seats 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 are released in the spring. All families who submit a pre-K application by the deadline receive a pre-K offer letter; those with MySchools accounts can also view their offer in MySchools. Your pre-K offer letter includes your child's pre-K offer and lets you know where your child is waitlisted, if applicable.
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.
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.
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 Pre-K Extended Day and Year Seats and Head Start Seats
Who is Eligible?
Extended Day and Year seats and Head Start seats are available for four year olds to families that qualify. Eligibility is based on your family's income and needs. These programs can enroll eligible children at any time throughout the year.
- Extended Day and Year seats offer free or low-cost early care and education for up to 10 hours a day, all year round. If you get an offer to one of these seat types, you will be asked to complete a Child Care application to determine eligibility.
- Head Start seats offer free early care and education for up to 10 hours a day, all year round. If you get an offer to one of these seat types, the program will work with you directly to establish eligibility.
These seat types are offered in NYC Early Education Centers and NYC childcare networks and may also serve infants, toddlers, and three-year-olds. To learn more, visit our EarlyLearn and 3-K pages.
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
Pre-K Extended Day and Year Seats
Your family may qualify for Extended Day and Year seats if your family's income falls below a certain amount and you have at least one of the follow approved "reasons for care":
- You work an average of 10 or more 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 and Year seats at 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 be admitted to our programs through any other type of 3-K, pre-K, or Head Start seat. If your family is unable to meet the Extended Day and Year seat documentation requirements listed above, the DOE will help you explore any available alternatives that meet the needs of your family.
How to Enroll Mid-Year
Programs with extended Day and Year seats and Head Start seats can enroll eligible children at any time during the year:
- Visit MySchools to find a program near you. Under each program, you will see its seat types listed. You can also select for programs with these seat types by clicking "More Filters" and selecting the option(s) you want under the "Eligibility" section.
- For Head Start seats, reach out to the program directly to determine eligibility.
- For other Extended Day and Year seats, contact us at CCapplication@schools.nyc.gov.
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 call 311 to get help with finding a program and and completing the Child Care subsidy application.
Plan for Next Year: Kindergarten Admissions
You can 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.
Use this Registration Checklist to learn what to provide or bring when you register your child for Pre-K.
2022 NYC Public Schools Admissions Guide
View or download the 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.