Answering Your Questions About Pre-K Enrollment
DISTRICT | May 10, 2021
Answering Your Questions About Pre-K Enrollment

Did you know that children who experience quality early childhood education programs are more likely to graduate from high school and college? Research shows that preschool matters, and Chicago Public Schools is here to help you enroll your student in pre-k for the upcoming school year. 

These high-quality pre-k programs will help your child build a strong academic foundation in literacy and math, as well as social-emotional and cognitive skills that will prepare them for future learning. They will learn and grow through a play-based approach that allows them to engage with a variety of toys and other classroom materials while developing relationships with their teachers and peers. 

Using the Chicago Early Learning website, you can explore hundreds of early learning programs to find one that is conveniently located and meets your child’s needs. Below, we’ve compiled some of the most common questions about enrolling in pre-k. If you have a question that is not answered below, consider calling the Chicago Early Learning hotline at 312-229-1690.

How do I apply for pre-k? 

Families can submit a single application for each child to any Chicago Early Learning program through the Chicago Early Learning website. The application will ask for information about employment and income, and allow families to select up to two preferred sites. Bilingual assistance completing the application or answering questions is available in person at a Family Resource Center or by calling the Chicago Early Learning hotline at (312) 229-1690. 

What happens after I submit my application? 

Families will receive either an offer from one of their preferred preschool sites or be notified that they are on a waitlist. Those who receive an offer will be able to enroll their child at the site once they verify their address, income, and their child’s date of birth. Those on a waitlist may either select another site with available space or choose to wait for an opening at their preferred program. 

What programs is my child eligible for?

Children who are four years old on or before September 1, 2021, are eligible for admittance into CPS full-day and half-day preschool programs. Children who are three years old on or before September 1, 2021, are eligible for CPS half-day programs or community-based early learning programs. 

Is there a deadline I should be aware of? 

Applications for the upcoming school year opened on April 21 and will be considered year-round. Families who apply in our early application period during the first three weeks are more likely to receive an offer from one of their preferred sites. 

We strongly encourage families to enroll before the first day of school to ensure a smooth transition. Whenever you apply, though, the district has high-quality classrooms with availability across the city.

If there are more applicants than seats at a site, how does CPS determine who receives an offer?

Equity is one of the district’s core values, and priority will be given to our highest-need families, including low-income families and those with diverse learners, English learners, students in temporary living situations, or foster children. 

However, we have pre-k classrooms in schools across the city. If you do not receive an offer at one of your preferred sites, we can help you find another program that is right for your child through our Chicago Early Learning hotline at (312) 229-1690.

Will there be remote options? 

Yes. The district is committed to offering in-person pre-k five days a week in the fall while also providing remote options for families who need them. For more information, check out the Ask the Expert session below with Bryan Stokes, the district’s Chief of Early Childhood Education.

What safety protocols will be in place? 

Safety is the district’s top priority for the upcoming school year. All students age three and up will be required to wear face coverings, and classrooms will be frequently sanitized and structured to accommodate social distancing. Additionally, parents will be required to complete a symptom screener daily to ensure their child is healthy before attending school. 

Interested in seeing what pre-k might look like for your child in the fall? Take a look inside a pre-k classroom at Kozminski Community Academy.