Letter from Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Chicago's investment in early childhood education.
Letter from CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett on school based pre-K programs across the District.
Early Childhood Facts
Children who attend high-quality early childhood programs are 29% more likely to graduate from high school and earn a 33% higher salary on average.
High-quality early childhood programs…
- boost academic skills
- fuel intellectual curiosity
- foster independence
- instill a love of lifelong learning
Choosing the Right Program
CPS funds early childhood education programs through both schools and community-based organizations. The key to choosing the right program is figuring out what works for your family.
Things to consider when choosing a program:
- Program Hours
- Your Child's Age
- Language Preference
- Special Education Services
Whatever your family's particular needs, it's likely that Chicago: Ready to Learn! has an early childhood program that will work for you.
Keep in Mind...
A few things to keep in mind from the start:
- Community-based early childhood programs are open to children birth to 5 years old.
- All CPS-funded community preschool programs must have certified teachers, strictly controlled class sizes, and regular student assessments
- Children do not necessarily need to be toilet trained to enter community-based programs.
- Your child must turn 3 years old by September 1, 2013 to enroll.
- If you have a 3-year-old in a CPS preschool right now, you do not need to reapply. Your child is guaranteed a spot in their current program for the 2013-14 school year and will not be eligible for the sliding scale.
- It is recommended that children be toilet trained before entering school-based preschool programs.
- To help maximize program access throughout the city, CPS has implemented a sliding scale fee for school-based early childhood programs.
- Programs will continue to be offered free of charge for children with special needs, children in temporary living situations, and for income-eligible families including those who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
- For families that do not fall into these categories, a fee based on the income of the parents or legal guardians may be required. To see what copayment you may be asked to contribute, use the sliding scale calculator.
Application Deadline Extended for CPS School-Based Pre-K Programs
To ensure families have all the time they need to explore high-quality CPS school based early learning programs, we have extended the application deadline for CPS school-based early childhood programs to May 24!
Remember, CPS is just one provider of high-quality early learning programs; high-quality early learning programs operated by community-based organizations are also available in your neighborhood and across the city. Visit the Early Learning Portal (chicagoearlylearning.org) to learn more and compare programs. You can also text your zip code to 773-886-1819, or call the Chicago: Ready to Learn! hotline at 312-229-1690 to find out more information.
How to Enroll
Enrolling your child in an early childhood program may seem complicated. We want to make it easier by breaking the process down into simple steps.
To enroll in a community-based preschool program, you must contact the agency directly. We recommend that you visit several agencies to observe their programs and ask questions. This will help you decide which one is the best fit for your family.
To learn what programs are available in your neighborhood, visit www.chicagoearlylearning.com or text your zip code to (773) 886-1819.
To see a list of the high-quality community-based early childhood programs that are being funded by Chicago: Ready To Learn!, click here.
To enroll in a CPS school-based early childhood program, follow these 5 steps.
Step 1: Get an Application
You can pick up an application at your local elementary school or at one of 13 Chicago! Ready To Learn Application Sites ( click here for sites and schedules - updated 5/20/13). You can also download an application by clicking here. ( Spanish |
Urdu). For a list of schools that will have preschool programs next year, along with the school codes needed to complete the application, click here.
For students in temporary living situations, please click here | Spanish |
Step 2: Complete the Application
On the Chicago: Ready To Learn! application, you will be allowed to list 3 preschool programs for your child in order of preference. Take your time filling out the application. You want to make sure that all of the information you provide CPS is accurate.
Step 3: Gather Your Documentation
When you submit your application, you will need to provide proof of your child's age, your residency, and your income. For a complete list of documents that can be used to do this, see the FAQ | Spanish.
Step 4: Submit Your Application
All applications must be submitted by May 24. There are 2 ways to submit your early childhood application:
- Drop it off in person at one of the 13 Chicago! Ready To Learn! Application Sites
- Drop it off in person at your local elementary school on indicated dates only.
( Click here for sites and schedules).
Step 5: Wait for Notification
Applications WILL NOT be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. You will be notified of your child's preschool placement in early June.
Other important facts about early childhood programs:
- All preschool-aged children are welcome to apply for early childhood programs, including those with special needs. For information on services and interventions that are available to these students, please call the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services at (773) 553-1800.
- In general, transportation IS NOT provided for early childhood students.
- In addition to community and school-based programs, CPS also offers additional early childhood models, including Child Parent Centers and Tuition-Based Preschool Programs.
- Preschool-aged children who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence are eligible for enrollment in CPS early childhood programs at no cost and at any time. For more information on services available to these students please call CPS Support for Students in Temporary Living Situations at (773) 553-2242.
Parents should feel free to call the Chicago: Ready To Learn Hotline at (312) 229-1690 with questions.
More information about the application process:
Information about standards for high-quality programs:
(from the National Association for the Education of Young Children)
(from the State of Illinois)
(from the CPS Office of Early Childhood Education)
| Spanish (from the CPS Office of Early Childhood Education)
Families of students with special needs should contact the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services at (773) 553-1800.
For Community-Based Organizations
Provides preschool services and developmentally appropriate experiences to children enrolled in subcontracted child care facilities
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