Get Ready for 3-K!
For Families with Child Born in 2016
It's not too late! You may still be able to enroll your child for this school year. Visit MySchools to learn more about program options and contact programs directly to see if they have any open seats.
For Families with Children Born in 2017
You can apply to 3-K starting in February 2020.
- Sign up for our 3-K email list today to get admissions tips and updates, including event information.
- Explore current 3-K programs with MySchools.
Who Can Apply?
Apply to 3-K the year your child turns three. Children born in 2016 can begin now. Children born in 2017 will begin 3-K in September 2020.
In fall 2020, we will offer 3-K for All programs to three-year-old children in all five boroughs. In 14 school districts (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 27, 29, 31, and 32) we will offer free, full-day 3-K programs that all NYC families are eligible to apply for if their child was born in 2017. Children who live in these district have priority to attend. Call 311 to learn your school district. In many other school districts, we have 3-K programs that are available to families that qualify based on their income, size, 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.
All children of this age who are also current New York City residents are welcome to apply, including children currently attending EarlyLearn or other preschool programs, children with disabilities, children with accessibility needs, children learning English, students in temporary housing, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming children, and children who move to NYC during the admissions process.
3-K for All brings free, full-day, high-quality education to three-year-old children in New York City—learn more about the benefits of 3-K.
3-K Program Settings
Families can choose from four types of settings for 3-K programs:
1. NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs). Some community-based organizations contract with the DOE to provide free 3-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 of 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 3-K programs. These programs are overseen by the school's principal.
3. Pre-K Centers. Pre-K Centers are run by DOE staff, but they only offer grades before kindergarten.
4. Home-Based Programs (currently offered in District 27). Home-based programs, also known as family child care programs, offer 3-K in a home setting by a licensed, qualified, child care provider.
- In this setting, 3-K children are served in mixed-age groups with other children from birth to four years old.
- These programs are consistent with 3-K programs offered in center-based and district school settings, and are overseen by the Department of Children and Family Services), and a Family Child Care Network organization that provides instructional resources, coaching, and family support.
- Families may choose to enroll their children in home-based early childhood programs because of their many unique strengths:
- Children can form strong relationships with caregivers by continuing in the same program from six weeks to three years old.
- Children can interact with other children, including siblings, in a mixed-age setting.
- Children can begin their early education in a familiar setting before transitioning to center- or school-based pre-K, if that is the family's preference.
- Families can have access to programs the offer longer days and years to meet the needs of work or school schedules.
- Families can find programs that are conveniently located close to home, work, or school.
- Families may find that home-based programs best reflect the language and culture of their community.
- Like center- and school-based programs, home-based 3-K programs help children learn, grow, and explore the world around them. Home-based programs use DOE-approved curriculum, and the providers receive professional learning and coaching to support quality play-based instruction.
- There are two types of home-based programs: Family Day Care and Group Family Day Care programs.
- Family Day Care programs serve up to six children with one provider (no more than two children can be under 24 months of age).
- Group Family Day Care programs serve up to 12 children with one provider and one assistant (no more than four children can be under 24 months of age).
3-K Admissions Resources
- MySchools. Find the most up-to-date 3-K program information. Search for programs on your computer or phone. During the application period, you can also use MySchools to submit your child's application.
- 2019 NYC 3-K Admissions Guide . Learn about 3-K admissions and browse last year's 3-K programs by district.
- VIDEO. Watch this animation to learn how students of all ages get offers to NYC public schools:
Visiting a 3-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. During the school year, contact programs directly to find out if they have special events or tours, or to set up a visit.
When visiting, 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 programs directly to find out if they have special events or tours:
How to Apply
Families of children born in 2017 can apply to 3-K starting in February 2020.
During the application period, families can apply online with MySchools, over the phone, or in person at a Family Welcome Center. Interpretation services are 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 3-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 3-K admissions, request a call from the Outreach Team.
Get Your 3-K Results Letter
Families that submit an application by the deadline will get their 3-K results letter in late May. This letter will also tell you where your child is waitlisted.
If your child gets a 3-K offer, you must accept the offer by pre-registering at the program where you got the offer. Pre-registration secures your child's 3-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 the Pre-Registration Checklist to learn what you need to bring:
A 3-K program has a waitlist when there are more students that apply to it than 3-K seats available. Your child will be automatically added to the waitlist for any program you ranked higher on your 3-K application than the program where your child got an offer, or for all programs on your application if you did not get 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 3-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?
Head Start and Child Care is available for 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.
Head Start and Child Care programs also serve infants, toddlers, and four year olds. To learn more, visit our Infant & Toddler and Pre-K pages.
Your family may qualify for Child are 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 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
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 year, if your family is eligible.
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 make 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 Center, or call 311 to get help with finding a program and completing the Child Care subsidy application.
Plan for Pre-K
Pre-kindergarten (pre-K) helps to ensure that all children have a strong start in school and life!
Start thinking about pre-K programs when your child is enrolled in 3-K or another three-year-old preschool program, or when they are three years old. In New York City, children are eligible to apply to pre-K in the calendar year they turn four. Every child in NYC whose family submits a pre-K application is guaranteed a pre-K offer.
Students enrolled in certain 3-K or three-year-old programs may have priority to attend pre-K at the same center or school. Learn more on the Pre-K page.