Through Chicago Early Learning, all of our families—no matter their needs—will be able to find and secure a quality early learning program.
– CHICAGO MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL
These programs may also be referred to as Early Head Start, Prevention Initiative, or Early Intervention.
Children aged birth to three years old from qualifying families
Preschool programs may be referred to as Head Start or Preschool for All.
3- and 4-year-old children from qualifying families.
Children who are 5 years old by September 1st of the current school year should enroll in kindergarten at a CPS preschool. Visit the CPS website to enroll a child in kindergarten.Learn More
The early education programs at the City of Chicago are available in a number of settings:
Many CPS elementary schools offer early learning programs as a part of their services.
Neighborhood locations provide early childhood education and infant and toddler care. Hours vary by site.
Home Visiting Care is also available for qualifying families, for children between the ages of birth to 3. Visiting coaches provide early care and consulting in the family’s home to qualifying families.
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.
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.
Quality Ratings are assessments of early learning programs used by Excelerate Illinois to help families understand program quality and help providers prioritize improvements. Excelerate Illinois, the state’s rating and improvement system, sets a research-based standard for early learning and development providers, reflected in its tiered Circles of Quality. The higher the tier, the more the program has made meaningful improvements that better the child for school and life. Reviewing a potential preschool program’s rating in Excelerate’s Circles of Quality can help Illinois families make a more informed decision for their child. More information can be found at ExcelerateIllinois.com.
Accreditation is another way of measuring and understanding early learning program quality; accredited status means that a program has met high standards of excellence determined by a national organization such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NEPCA), or the Council on Accreditation (COA). These quality standards measure areas such as teaching, curriculum, learning assessments, health, community relationships, physical environment, and management.
To learn more about accreditation of early learning programs and how such standards can help guide families searching for early learning programs, click on one of the following links: