NYC Pre-K Admissions Guide

Welcome to pre-K admissions!

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Sign up for the pre-K email list.
  2. Use MySchools to apply for pre-K by March 29, 2020.
  3. Visit pre-K programs and attend open houses!

Questions about admissions? Contact us at ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov.

Explore Early Childhood Learning in NYC?

The Department of Education welcomes and serves all eligible New York City children, including children with accessibility needs, children with disabilities, children who speak a language other than English, children in temporary housing, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming children, and children who are new to NYC early childhood education. We are committed to welcoming all children and families, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, into our schools and programs.

Early Learn | For Children Six Weeks - Two Years Old

Through EarlyLearn, New York City provides a number of free or low-cost infant and toddler programs for families who qualify. These programs, including Early Head Start, provide early care and education for children six weeks through two years old, all year for up to ten hours a day. Eligibility is based on your family's income and needs. Programs are located in NYC Early Education Centers and home-based Family Child Care settings. If you qualify and there is a seat available, your child can begin a program anytime during the year. Learn more at nyc.gov/EarlyLearn.

3-K for All | For Three-Year-Olds

Families with children born in 2017 can apply to 3-K this winter. New York City offers free, full-day, high-quality 3-K for All programs in a growing number of districts across all five boroughs. Children who live in districts with 3-K programs have priority to attend, but families in any district are welcome to apply—find your district at schools.nyc.gov/Find-a-School or by calling 311. In all schools districts, 3-K programs are available to families who qualify based on their income and needs. These programs, including Head Start, are free or low-cost and offer care all year round for up to 10 hours a day.

When the application period opens in early February, use MySchools to explore your child's 3-K for All program options—check back frequently, as we will be adding new programs in the spring. Submit your child's 3-K application online, by phone, or at a Family Welcome Center by Friday, April 24, 2020. In May, you will get your child's results letter, which may include a 3-K offer. Learn more at the 3-K webpage.

Pre-K for All | For Four-Year-Olds

All New York City families with children born in 2016 can apply to free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K for All. Families with children currently attending a three-year-old program, including 3-K for All, at a school or center that offers Pre-K for All must still apply to pre-K to secure your placement in that pre-K program. The deadline to apply to pre-K is Sunday, March 29, 2020. When the application period opens in early February, use MySchools to explore your child's Pre-K for All program options and apply. Submit a pre-K application online, by phone, or at a Family Welcome Center by the March 29 deadline. In May, you will get your child's pre-K offer—pre-register at the program to accept.

Discover Pre-K Programs

In free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K for All, children are in a safe learning environment with opportunities to participate in engaging activities and interact with other children and teaching staff. Children in pre-K learn through play, grow, and explore the world around them.

  • Most pre-K programs run five days a week from September to June on a full-day schedule (6 hours and 20 minutes). Some half-day (2 hours and 30 minutes) options are also available.
  • In addition, there are pre-K programs that offer care all year for up to 10 hours a day, for families that qualify based on their income and needs. This includes Head Start programs—learn more below.

Pre-K for All Program Settings

Pre-K for All programs are offered in three different settings. All settings provide high-quality learning environments and are held to the same DOE quality standards.

You can choose to apply to programs in any or all of these settings, depending on what's best for your family:

NYC Early Education Centers

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 3-K or another 3-year-old program at the center
  • Your child has a sibling also attending the program
  • Your family receives social services from the organization that runs the center
  • You need extended care for your child—many programs offer year-round programming for up to 10 hours a day

DOE Public Schools

Some public elementary schools offer pre-K programs.

Consider DOE public schools if:

  • Your child currently attends 3-K at the school
  • You have an older child already attending the school
  • You want your child to attend a program in an elementary school setting

Pre-K Centers

These programs are run by DOE staff, and they only offer grades before kindergarten.

Consider Pre-K Centers if:

  • Your child currently attends 3-K at the Pre-K Center
  • You want your child to attend a program with only young children

Other Pre-K Options

You can also find half-day pre-K programs and charter school pre-K programs near you 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 this guide, 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.

Head Start and Other Pre-K Extended Day/Year Programs

Some NYC Early Education Centers offer care all year for up to 10 hours a day for families that qualify based on their income and needs. These pre-K programs offer quality programming and family engagement with opportunities for children to play, learn, and build skills that get them ready for kindergarten and beyond. These year-round options include Head Start programs, which provide supports for the whole family.

Check MySchools to see if Head Start or other pre-K extended day/year programming is available at a NYC Early Education Center. If you qualify and there is a seat available, your child can begin at any time during the year. Contact the program directly to find out if your family is eligible.

Questions about Head Start or other pre-K extended day/year program options? Call 311 or visit a DOE Family Welcome Center. You can also learn more at nyc.gov/HeadStart and nyc.gov/PreK.

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.

Program Quality

Pre-K Quality Snapshots provide families with data from program assessments and the NYC School Survey. They can help you understand and compare different aspects of quality at programs. You can view any program's Pre-K Quality Snapshot here. Learn more about program quality by visiting pre-K programs, asking teachers and leaders questions, and talking to community members and other families about their experiences in pre-K.

Learn How Children Get Pre-K Offers

All New York City families who submit a pre-K application by March 29, 2020 will get a pre-K offer. 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. Children get pre-K offers based on three key factors: your application choices, programs' seat availability, and admissions priorities.

Pre-K admissions is not first come, first served, and you can make changes to your application any time before the March 29 deadline. All applications submitted by this deadline are treated the same based on the following:

1. Your application choices The number of choices you add to your child's application AND the order in which you place them matter! Add up to 12 choices to your child's application in your true order of preference.
2. Programs' seat availabilityEach pre-K program has a certain number of available seats. If a program has more applicants than seats, admissions priorities are used to make offers.
3. Admissions prioritiesSome groups of pre-K applicants have priority to attend programs. All students in a program's top priority group will be considered for offers first. Then, if seats are available, students in that program's second priority group will be considered next, and so on.

Watch this video to learn how New York City families get 3-K and pre-K offers.

Your Application Choices

The programs that you add to your child's application and the order in which you place them help determine your child's pre-K offer.

  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.

Seat Availability

Pre-K programs vary in size, and many programs have more applicants than seats.

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 2020, or the applicant's sibling is pre-registered for September 2020. This includes siblings enrolled in District 75 programs in the same building.

District Priority

New York City has 32 school district. 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.

Families living in Schools 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.

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.

Admissions Priorities for Each Pre-K Setting

NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs)

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 at the 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

DOE Public Schools (Zoned Schools)

Applicants receive offers to pre-K programs at zoned DOE public 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

DOE Public Schools (Non-Zoned Schools)

Applicants receive offers to pre-K programs at non-zoned DOE public 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*
  2. Children who live in the same district as the Pre-K Center
  3. Children who live outside the district

*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.

Diversity in Admissions

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 effort to increase diversity by giving admissions priorities to children who qualify for free and reduced lunch (FRL)., students in temporary housing (STH), Emergent Multilingual Learners (EMLLs), and other groups. The current list of pre-K programs participating in this initiative is available here.

Visit Programs and Learn More

During the process of finding the right program for your child and family, visit the program to learn more.

Visit Programs

Visiting a program is the best way to see if it is the right program for your child. It is also a great way to see how long the trip is from home, and to consider how your child would get to that program each day. Contact pre-K programs directly to find out if they have open houses or tours, or check out our pre-K website for open house dates.

Observe and Ask Questions

Use MySchools on your phone or computer to learn about pre-K programs near you and across the city. Below are some questions that can help you learn more about programs of interest when you are researching and visiting.

  • What are you looking for in a program? What is required to meet your needs?
  • What are some program features that would be great to have, but are not requirements?
  • Do teachers and children seem happy and interested in what they're doing?
  • Do teachers and staff encourage and support children?
  • Do I feel welcome in this program? Would my child feel welcome here?
  • What are your program's greatest strengths? What are you working to improve?
  • How will staff members make sure my child feels dafe and part of the community?
  • How can families participate in your program?
  • Could you tell me about your daily schedule? What is a typical day like for a pre-K student in this program?
  • Can your program contact me by mail, phone, and/or email in my home language?

Apply to Pre-K by March 29, 2020

Apply to Pre-K for All between February 5, 2020 and Sunday, March 29, 2020! Only a child's primary custodial parent or guardian can submit their application, and only one application can be submitted per child. You can list up to 12 programs on your child's application.

How to Apply

You can apply one of two ways.

Online at MySchools

MySchools is an online directory of NYC public schools and early childhood programs, and a personalized application on your child.

  • Explore pre-K program option, find choices for your child's application, and apply—all in one place.
  • Apply anytime—MySchools is available 24 hours a day.
  • Apply online in English, Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Chinese, Haitian Creole, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, or Urdu.
  • Remember to click the Submit Application button!
  • Apply by March 29, 2020, at 11:59pm.

By phone at 718-935-2009

  • Call us Monday through Friday from 8am to 6pm.
  • Apply by phone in over 200 languages. If you speak a language other than English, ask for an interpreter.
  • Apply by March 29 at 6pm.

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 March 29 deadline. All applications submitted by this deadline are treated the same based on admissions priorities.

Get and Accept Your Pre-K Offer

In May, you will receive your child's pre-K offer. Your child's offer letter will also tell you if your child is on any waitlists.

Pre-Registration

Accept your child's pre-K offer by pre-registering at the program where you got the offer. Pre-registration secures your child's pre-K seat at that program.

Contact the program directly to set up a time to pre-register. Use the list below to make sure you have everything you need.

What to bring

  • Your child's offer letter
  • Proof of your child's age (child's birth certificate, passport, or baptism record)
  • Your child's immunization records, if available (learn more below)
  • Two documents verifying proof of address—find examples of acceptable documents in our online Pre-Registration Checklist. View or download it from here; click on "Get Your Pre-K Offer."

Tip: Students in temporary housing are not required to submit documentation (including proof of address, proof of age, and immunization records) in order to enroll. Programs must allow the family to accept their offer and then work with a contact in the DOE's Office of Students in Temporary Housing to obtain documentation.

Waitlists

When a pre-K program has more applicants than seats, a waitlist is created for that program. Waitlists sort children based on the same priority groups used to make offers. Your child can be placed on a waitlist in two ways:

  1. Your child will be automatically placed on the waitlist at programs that you placed higher on your child's application than the program where they got an offer. For example, if your child go an offer to attend the program you listed third on their application, they will automatically be placed on the waitlist for your first- and second-choice programs.
  2. Additionally, families who move or want to consider other options after receiving an offer can join waitlists at additional programs of interest.

Programs will contact families directly if they can make an offer to a child on their waitlist; no additional action is required of families on a waitlist. Programs make offers in the order that children appear on their waitlist to fill any open seats. Programs continue to make waitlist offers through the start of the school year.

Children Who Move During the Admissions Process

If you are a current New York City resident who moves to a new New York City address during the pre-K admissions process, update your address in MySchools. If you move after the application process has ended, you can call 718-935-2009 or visit a Family Welcome Center to update your information and talk about next steps. 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.

2020 NYC G&T Admission Guide Cover
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