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Who Can Apply to Pre-K?
Every family of a four-year-old in New York City can apply to pre-K. Children born in 2015 will begin pre-K in September 2019. Your child must be a current New York City resident to apply.
All of the following students are welcome to apply to pre-K:
- 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
- Students with disabilities
- Students with accessibility needs
- Students learning English
- Students in temporary housing
- LGBTQ and gender nonconforming students
- Students who are new to NYC public schools—if you move to NYC during the school year, visit the New Students page to learn how to enroll.
Find Out More
If you move to NYC during the school year, visit our New Students page to learn how to enroll:
Subscribe to the pre-K admissions email list to get updates on when and how to apply for the 2019-2020 school year:
Find Pre-K Programs
In free, full-day, high-quality pre-K, children are in a safe learning environment with opportunities to participate in engaging activities and interact with other children and teaching staff—learn more about the benefits of pre-K on the Early Childhood Learning page:
Pre-K runs five days per week from September to June. Most pre-K options are on a full-day schedule (6 hours and 20 minutes). Some half-day (2 hours and 30 minutes) options are also available. Families can choose from three types of settings for pre-K programs:
- District Schools. Some public elementary schools offer pre-K programs. These programs are overseen by the school's principal.
- Pre-K Centers. Pre-K Centers are run by DOE staff, but they only offer grades before kindergarten.
- NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs). Some community-based organizations contract with the DOE or the Administration for Children’s Services to provide free pre-K. These programs are selected through a rigorous evaluation process and are supported by the DOE Division of Early Childhood Education.
Diversity in Admissions
Pre-K programs across the city are participating in a pilot initiative to increase diversity within their programs—learn more on our Diversity in Admissions page:
Charter schools have a separate admissions process. Contact charter schools directly to learn how to apply—find out more on the Learn About Charter Schools page:
- Pre-K Finder. Find the most up-to-date pre-K program information with Pre-K Finder. Explore pre-K programs on your desktop or mobile device and find the best route from home to any program by subway or bus. If you have questions about pre-K, fill out the Get-In-Touch Form to request a call from the Pre-K Outreach Team:
- NYC Pre-Kindergarten Directory. View or download last year's directory to learn about pre-K programs in your borough and district. (Information about 2019 programs is coming soon!) Find out more about the admissions process and the different admissions priorities for each pre-K program setting:
- Pre-K Quality Snapshots can help you understand different elements of quality at Pre-K for All programs across New York City. The Snapshots are meant to help you choose the program that best meets your child's and family's needs. To access a program's Pre-K Quality Snapshot, search for that program in Pre-K Finder:
Learn more about the Pre-K Quality Snapshot:
The Pre-K Quality Snapshot is one important way to learn about Pre-K for All program quality. You can also learn more by doing the following:
- Visiting programs
- Asking questions of pre-K leaders and teachers
- Talking to other families
Visit Pre-K Programs
Visiting a program is the best way to explore if it may be the right place for your child. It’s also a great way to see how long the trip is from home.
When visiting a pre-K program, 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?
Find open house dates in the calendar below, and contact schools directly to find out if they have special events or tours.
Apply to Pre-K
You can list up to 12 programs on your pre-K application. Submit only one pre-K application per child.
After the application period opens this winter, you can apply one of three ways:
- Online in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Russian, Arabic, Urdu, Haitian Creole, Korean, or French
- By phone at 718-935-2009
- In person at a Family Welcome Center
Interpretation services will be available in more than 200 languages for over-the-phone and in-person applications. You can ask questions and request information about admissions in any language when you call or go to a Family Welcome Center.
Pre-K admissions is not first come, first served—all applications submitted online, by phone, or in person by the deadline are treated the same based on admissions priorities.
Get Your Pre-K Offer
All families who submit an application by the deadline will get their pre-K offer letter in late spring. This letter will also tell you where your child is waitlisted.
You must accept your 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 to schedule a time to pre-register in person. Be sure to accept your offer even if you are waitlisted at another program.
Then bring your child and all required documents to pre-registration—use this checklist to learn what you need to bring:
A pre-K program has a waitlist when there are more students that apply to it than pre-K seats available. 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. Programs will contact you directly if they are able to offer your child a seat from the waitlist.
Students Who Move During the Admissions Process
If your family moves during the admissions process, call 718-935-2009 or visit a Family Welcome Center 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.
Plan for Next Year
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 who 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. Learn more:
Gifted & Talented (G&T) is a separate admissions process for students entering kindergarten. To participate, you must schedule your child to take the G&T test. G&T programs are in very high demand and offers are not guaranteed. Learn more: