Parents looking for a pre-kindergarten program for their four-year-olds now have a lot more options. The city is opening 10,400 new pre-k seats this September in community-based organizations, including childcare centers, libraries, public housing projects and Catholic and Jewish schools. This is in addition to the 15,000 pre-k seats currently offered at community organizations.
New pre-k seats will open in roughly 280 community organizations across all five boroughs. More than 4,500 of the new spots will be in Queens. Bronx and Brooklyn will each gain roughly 2,100 new seats. Staten Island is gaining about 990 seats; Manhattan only 580.
The latest wave of new pre-k seats marks the second stage of the mayor’s ambitious plan to offer 50,000 slots in full-day programs by September, 2014. In April the city added 4,200 pre-k seats in public schools. More than 41,000 families applied for a spot in a new or existing public school program. The Department of Education (DOE) will send out letters informing parents if their child has a seat by June 5. Families offered a public school pre-k spot will need to register their child at the school by June 20.
All families with four-year-olds can apply to pre-k programs in community organizations, including those who already applied to a public school pre-k. The DOE has published a directory of all the community-based pre-k seats. Many are full-day programs that run six hours, 20 minutes, and all are free. Some programs only serve low-income families and have eligibility requirements. Parents should contact organizations directly to determine if there are income restrictions and to get more information about their specific program.
You must complete a separate application form for each pre-k program you are interested in and submit the forms directly to the community organizations, or you can apply online via the DOE website. If you need help on the telephone, we recommend you call the Center for Children's Initiatives, a referral and information service that's a great resource for parents: (212) 929-6911. You can also use their website.
Most of the community-based organizations enroll students on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is best to apply soon. The DOE is encouraging parents to apply by June 26.
For more information, application forms and to search for a pre-k program near you, check out the pre-k enrollment page on the DOE website.
Updated on June 3 with information about online applications for community-based pre-k programs and the deadline to accept a spot in a public school pre-k.