Skip to main content
Child Care

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

EarlyLearn | NYC Department of Education (DOE)

1. How it Works

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.

2. Determine your eligibility

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

Take a short survey to see if you might be eligible for this or 30 other programs.

Am I Eligible?

Next section:

3. How to Apply

3. How to apply

Here are your options.

Apply by mail

The best way to apply is in person. Find a program on MySchools and visit it. Program staff will help you complete the application and make sure there are no mistakes.

  1. Download the application in your language or call 311 to request one in the mail.
  2. Email your application to
    • If you cannot email, you can also mail your application to:
      NYC DOE Family Welcome Center
      333 7th Ave
      12th floor
      New York NY 10001

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

Download the application

Apply in person

Come back to it later.
We can send you a link to this page to help you get back to it when you’re ready.

More ways to get help with this program

Visit the website

Get more information about EarlyLearn from NYCDOE.

Call 311

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

Last Updated Wednesday, October 12th, 9:26am

Stay updated on benefits

Get occasional emails about benefits news, upcoming enrollment periods, and deadlines. Translations are available in 11 languages.