Care and education for 3-4 year-olds from low-income families

Head Start | NYC Department of Education (DOE)

Child Care Toddler Pre-Schooler

Head Start programs provide safe and positive environments for children age 3-4 to learn, play, and build the skills that get them ready for kindergarten and beyond. Programs also provide health, nutrition, and other services to children and their families.

  • Your child can begin a Head Start program at any time of the year if you qualify and there are open seats. Programs:
    • are free and run year-round for at least eight hours a day.
    • provide nutritious meals and health screenings for children.
  • Head Start programs also help parents and families achieve their own goals, including employment, housing, adult education, and accessing health services.
  • Limited space is also available in Early Head Start programs, which serve pregnant mothers, infants, and toddlers.
  • Head Start programs are located in centers run by community organizations and non-profits.
  • Eligibility is based on your family’s income, housing situation, and/or receipt of HRA cash assistance or SSI.

Who is eligible

Your family may qualify for Head Start if at least of these categories applies to you:

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

The best way to find out if your family is eligible for Head Start is to contact a program directly.


What you need to apply

To enroll your child in a program, you will need to prove the following:

  • Your child’s age
  • Your income, which can include a TANF or SSI benefit letter

How to apply

To apply for Head Start, you will need to contact a program near you.

To find a 3-K – Head Start program near you:

  1. Go to MySchools.
  2. Click “More Filters”. Select the “Head Start” checkbox under “Year-Round 3-K Programs”.
  3. Type in your home address to search for a program.

To find a Pre-K – Head Start program near you:

  1. Go to MySchools.
  2. Click “More Filters”. Select the “Head Start” checkbox under “Year Round Programs”.
  3. Type in your home address to search for a program.

How to get help

Visit the website

Learn more about Head Start from NYCDOE.

Call 311

Ask for “Head Start” if you need help finding a program.

Other Child Care Programs

Child Care Voucher

NYC Administration for Children's Services (ACS)

Child care for eligible low-income families

Help to cover the cost of child care for children six weeks to thirteen years old.

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 March 8, 2022