Free or low-cost child care for children six weeks to two years old

Infants and Toddlers | NYC Department of Education (DOE)

Child Care Baby Toddler

EarlyLearn programs provide free or low-cost child care and education for children six weeks to two years old. There are hundreds of programs in New York City that offer safe and positive learning environments for children.

  • Child care options include:
    • Infant and Toddler programs for children aged six weeks to two years. These take place in centers or homes for up to 10 hours a day.
    • Early Head Start programs for pregnant mothers, infants, and toddlers. These provide services for at least eight hours a day.
  • If you qualify and there is a seat available, your child can begin a program anytime during the year.
  • As long as your child has legal status, they are eligible for care regardless of the parents’ legal status.
  • Eligibility is based on your family’s income, size, and needs.
  • Families will need to pay some of the cost of child care if they do not get Cash Assistance, are not in foster care, or are not homeless.

Who is eligible

Early Head Start Programs

The best way to find out if your family is eligible for Early Head Start is to contact a program directly. Your family may qualify for Early Head Start if at least one of these categories applies to you:

  • You live in temporary housing
  • You receive HRA Cash Assistance
  • You receive SSI (Supplemental Security Insurance)
  • You are enrolling a child who is in foster care
  • Your family income falls below a certain amount

Infant/Toddler Programs

Your family may qualify for these programs if your family’s income falls below a certain amount. You must also have at least one of these approved “reasons for care”:

  • You work 10+ hours per week
  • You are in an educational or vocational training program
  • You are enrolled in a 4-year college
  • You are starting to look for work or have been looking for work for up to 6 months. This includes looking for work while receiving unemployment
  • You live in temporary housing
  • You are attending services for domestic violence

How to apply

Here are your options to apply:

  • Apply online using the MyCity app.
  • Apply by mail – Download the application in your language. Complete and mail it to:
    NYC DOE Family Welcome Center
    333 7th Ave
    12th floor
    New York NY 10001
  • Apply in person
    1. Find a program on MySchools.
      • Click “More Filters” and check any of the options under “EarlyLearn”.
      • Then, type in your home address to find a program near you.
    2. Visit a program. Staff will help you complete the application.

If you already get HRA benefits, apply at your assigned HRA Benefits Access Center instead.

How to get help

  • Get more information about childcare from NYCDOE.

Other Child Care Programs

Child Care Vouchers

NYC Administration for Children's Services (ACS)

Vouchers that help cover the cost of child care for children 6 weeks to 13 years old

Child care vouchers help pay for child care from licensed providers or informal providers like relatives, neighbors, or friends.

NYS Paid Family Leave (PFL)

NYS Workers' Compensation Board (NYS WCB)

Paid time off to care for family

Up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child, sick family member, and other situations.

NYC Child Care Connect (NYC CCC)

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)

Find a licensed child care program

An online resource that helps you find and stay informed about a child care program in your community.

Updated April 4, 2023