Are You Ready to Apply for an Early Learning Program?
Enrolling your child in a Chicago Early Learning program is easy and applications are open year-round.
Follow these easy steps to get your child enrolled.
Explore Preschool Options
There are high-quality early learning programs in every Chicago neighborhood. CPS Pre-K Programs offer free full-day programs for every four-year-old, while Community-Based Preschool and Early Learning Programs, including Head Start and Early Head Start that serve children from prenatal to age 5.
EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS
Complete the Application
Once you’ve narrowed down your top early learning program options, it’s time to apply! Apply as soon as you can for competitive programs to increase your child’s chances of receiving an offer letter.
You can start by creating an online account, fill out the required family information, and rank your top choices. Follow step three below to verify their placement after accepting your offer letter.
Need help with completing your child’s early learning application? From start to finish, our application walkthrough video gives a step-by-step guide to secure your child’s seat in a high-quality program with confidence.
Ranking Choices on the Application
Please rank your choices on the application in the order of your true preference.
Families will only receive ONE offer. You will be waitlisted at any program you ranked higher and will not be considered for any program you ranked lower. For example, if you receive an offer at your second choice, you will be waitlisted at your first choice, and you will receive a status of “not offered” for your third, fourth, and fifth choice.
If you receive an offer and would prefer to attend a program you have ranked lower, you will need to resubmit your application with a new choice order.
At CPS Pre-K Programs
Visit your child’s preschool to complete the enrollment process. The school may have more specific enrollment directions that they will communicate. We recommend calling the school before visiting to confirm your appointment time.
At Community-Based Programs
When you visit your child’s Community-Based site to verify your child’s offer, your program will communicate any additional requirements needed to complete the enrollment process. Community-Based Programs include Head Start and Early Head Start programs. We recommend calling the program before visiting to confirm your appointment time.
Families can resubmit their application if they would like to change the order of their choices or add additional programs (up to a total of five program choices). Please keep in mind that you will be resubmitting your applications to ALL programs on your list. Therefore, if you have an unaccepted offer, you are not guaranteed to keep it. Additionally, you may receive a new waitlist number when you resubmit your application.
Do you have questions regarding the waitlist? Read our FAQs under waitlist for more information or call our Family Support Hotline at 312-229-1690.
Have you found the right program for your child?
The City of Chicago and its partners offer high-quality early learning programs in every neighborhood across the city. Visit our search page to identify sites in areas near your home or work. The Chicago Early Learning Location Finder page allows you to identify a program’s quality rating, schedule and ages served.