Top of Page
Main

Programs

Kids Graphic

Look what WE can do!

Through Chicago Early Learning, all of our families—no matter their needs—will be able to find and secure a quality early learning program.

Woman playing on the floor with infant

Infants and Toddlers
Ages Birth to 2

Community-based early learning programs may also be referred to as Early Head Start, Prevention Initiative, or Early Intervention.

Who do they serve?
Children aged birth to three years old from qualifying families

What do they provide?

  • Educational and social development activities.
  • Programs may include free health services (medical, dental, mental health), nutritious meals, as well as parent education and training.

Preschool
Ages 3 and 4

Chicago Public Schools and community-based early learning programs may be referred to as Universal Pre-kindergarten, Preschool, Head Start or Child Care.

Who do they serve?
Universal Pre-kindergarten serves 4 year olds while all other preschool programs serve 3- and 4-year-old children from qualifying families.

What do they provide?

  • Educational and social development activities that promote school readiness.
  • Either a half-day or a full-day of instruction.
  • Programs may include free health services (medical, dental, mental health), nutritious meals, as well as parent education and training.

Preschool
Ages 3 and 4

Chicago Public Schools and community-based early learning programs may be referred to as Universal Pre-kindergarten, Preschool, Head Start or Child Care.

Who do they serve?
Universal Pre-kindergarten serves 4 year olds while all other preschool programs serve 3- and 4-year-old children from qualifying families.

What do they provide?

  • Educational and social development activities that promote school readiness.
  • Either a half-day or a full-day of instruction.
  • Programs may include free health services (medical, dental, mental health), nutritious meals, as well as parent education and training.

Kindergarten
Age 5

Children who are 5 years old by September 1st of the current school year are eligible and encouraged to enroll in kindergarten at a Chicago Public Schools preschool.

LEARN MORE

Types of Programs

Chicago Early Learning offers programs in a variety of settings. Find what is right for your family.

book and pencil icon

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Programs
Age Group: 3 and 4

Many CPS elementary schools offer early learning programs as a part of their services.

book icon

Community Early Learning Programs
Age Group: Birth to 4

Neighborhood locations provide early childhood education and infant and toddler care. Hours vary by site.

Home Visiting Programs are available to qualifying families of children between the ages of 0 - 3 years. Certified coaches provide early care and consulting in the family's home. Find a program that offers home visiting by selecting 'Home Visiting' from search filters.

Note: Chicago Public Schools and community-based sites are not able to provide transportation to all early learning programs across the city. However, Chicago Early Learning encourages families to take advantage of public transit opportunities. Learn more at the CTA website.

Choosing the Right Program

Quality ratings for Chicago Early Learning programs, and programs across Illinois and the country, offer families more insight before they make final choices about a program for their child.

What Makes a Great Program?

Visit your top choice early learning programs in person, if you can.
You will know it’s a strong program when you see the following:

blocks icon

Child-Friendly Spaces

A safe, child-friendly space for 20 preschoolers at most, with toys and materials indoors and outdoors

teacher icon

Top-Notch Teachers

Attentive, engaged teachers with 4-year degrees and training; 1:10 teacher: child ratios for pre-K

Student icon

Engaged Students

Variety in 1-1, small and full group age appropriate activities, with meals and naptime offered

Apple and book icon

And So Much More

Visitors welcomed with required safety measures, frequent handwashing by children and adults

Other Local Activities and Resources

See our Resources page to learn more about programs for young children throughout the city that are not part of Chicago Early Learning.

Learn more