A pre-K student in a classroom looks admiringly at a sea shell she's holding

Get Ready for Pre-K!

If your child was born in 2016, you can apply to pre-K starting in February 2020. Sign up for our pre-K email list today to get admissions tips and updates, including event information.

Learn How Students Get Offers

Watch this animation to learn how students of all ages get offers to NYC public schools, including pre-K programs:

Who Can Apply?

Every family with a four-year-old in New York City can apply to pre-K.

Families with children born in 2016 will apply this winter and begin pre-K in September 2020. All New York City families with children of this age are welcome to apply.

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 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.

Most 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. In addition, there are pre-K programs that offer care all year round for up to 10 hours a day, for families that qualify based on their income, size, and needs. This includes Head Start programs. All programs offer research-based and developmentally appropriate instruction. Families can choose from three types of settings for pre-K programs:

  • NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs). Some community-based organizations contract with the DOE 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.

Some NYC Early Education Centers offer up to 10 hours of programming, all year round, for families that qualify: see the Enrollment for Head Start & Child Care section to find out more about whether your family may be eligible.

  • EarlyLearn 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.
  • EarlyLearn Child Care. Free or low-cost services are available for up to 10 hours a day, all year long, including the summer.
  • 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.

Your Pre-K Choices

  • MySchools. Find the most up-to-date pre-K program information. Search for programs on your computer or phone.
  • NYC Pre-K Admissions Guide (Coming in early 2020) - Learn about pre-K admissions and discover pre-K programs in all 32 NYC school districts.

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

Charter schools have a separate admissions process. Learn more about charter schools, and contact charter schools directly to apply.

Pre-K Program Quality

Pre-K Quality Snapshots are one important way to learn about and understand different elements of quality at Pre-K for All programs across New York City. Snapshots are 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
  • Asking questions of pre-K leaders and teachers
  • Talking to other families

Visit Programs

Visiting a pre-K 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.

How to Apply

During the application period, families can apply online with MySchools, over the phone, or 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.

Need care now? Some pre-K programs can enroll children at any time throughout the year, if their family is eligible based on income, size, and needs. See the Enrollment for Head Start & Child Care section to learn more.

If you have questions about pre-K admissions, request a call from the Outreach Team.

Get Your Pre-K Offer

All families who submit a pre-K 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 all required documents to pre-registration. Use this checklist to learn what 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.

Enrollment for Head Start & Child Care

Who is Eligible?

Child Care and Head Start programs are available for four years olds to families that qualify for free or low-cost care. Eligibility is based on your family's income, size, and needs. Head Start and Child Care programs can enroll children at any time throughout the year, if your family is eligible.

Child Care and Head Start programs also serve infants, toddlers, and three year olds. To learn more, visit our Infant & Toddler and 3-K pages.

Child Care

Your family may qualify for Child 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

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

How to Apply

Head Start and Child Care programs can enroll children at any time throughout the ear, if your family is eligible.

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 at 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 Welcome Center, an ACS Resource Area, or call 311 to get help with finding a program and completing the Child Care subsidy application.

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.

Gifted & Talented

Gifted & Talented (G&T) is a separate admissions process for students entering kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade. 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.


Find checklists and guides to help you with your pre-K admissions and registration.

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