A 3-K student in the classroom smiles at the camera and holds an orange building block

Get Ready for 3-K!

If your child was born in 2017, you can apply to 3-K this winter.

  • The 3-K application opens in February 2020.
  • Sign up for our 3-K email list today to get admissions tips and updates, including event information.

Who Can Apply?

Every family with a three-year-old in New York City can apply to 3-K.

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.

Districts That Offer 3-K

In the 2019-2020 school year, we are offering 3-K in the following districts:

  • District 4 (East Harlem)
  • District 5 (Harlem)
  • District 6 (Washington Heights)
  • District 7 (South Bronx)
  • District 8 (Throgs Neck, Country Club, Pelham Bay, Castle Hill, Soundview, Hunts Point)
  • District 9 (Highbridge, University Heights)
  • District 16 (Bedford-Stuyvesant)
  • District 19 (East New York)
  • District 23 (Brownsville, East New York, Ocean Hill)
  • District 27 (Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Rockaways)
  • District 31 (Staten Island)
  • District 32 (Bushwick)

Families who live in one of the above districts have a priority to attend 3-K in their district, but families in any NYC school district are welcome to apply—call 311 to learn your school district.

Find Programs

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. District Schools. Some public elementary schools offer 3-K programs. These programs are overseen by the school's principal.

2. Pre-K Centers. Pre-K Centers are run by DOE staff, but they only offer grades before kindergarten.

3. NYC Early Education Centers (NYCEECs). Some community-based organizations contract with the DOE or the Administration for Children’s Services 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.

4. Home-Based 3-K for All Programs (currently offered in District 27). Home-based programs, also known as family child care programs, offer early care and education in a home setting by a licensed, qualified child care provider.

  • 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 Education, the Department of Health (on behalf of the New York State Office 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 through 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 that 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).
  • Home-based 3-K programs are currently only offered in District 27 in Queens. Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, the DOE will offer more early childhood care and education programs in home-based settings. In addition to offering 3-K for All, home-based programs will serve children from six weeks through three years old whose families meet income eligibility requirements.

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.
  • Read the 2019 NYC 3-K Admissions Guide to 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:

Visit Programs 

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 in winter 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.

If you have questions about 3-K admissions, request a call from the Outreach Team.

Get Your 3-K Results Letter

All families who 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 your child and 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.

Other Programs for Three-Year-Old Children

EarlyLearn NYC programs offer full-day, full-year child care and education for children from six weeks through four years old. Enrollment is year-round. EarlyLearn programs have income and other eligibility requirements. Learn more on the EarlyLearn NYC page.

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.


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