Public Preschool in Oak Park

Free, high-quality preschool experiences that support the development of the whole child are available to preschool age children that meet eligibility criteria in Oak Park and River Forest. These programs promote the success of children in school and in life.

Three agencies in Oak Park receive grants to provide state-funded Preschool for All programs for at-risk children: ABC Toon Town II Educational Center, Oak Park Elementary School District 97 and Oak Park River Forest Day Nursery. Additionally, Hephzibah offers a Head Start Program.

Contact the Collaboration for details on enrolling a child in any of the free preschool programs.


meet eligibility criteria for free preschool

Recent Accomplishments

The Collaboration’s professional development coordinator used the Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching to inform classroom observations, teacher assessments, staff development and mentoring at the four publicly funded preschool sites.

The professional development coordinator provided specific support on the use of the GOLD Assessment System to each site to help increase effective use of assessments and tailor instruction to meet individual children’s needs.

The Preschool for All programs developed a process for monitoring absences and tardiness and following up with families when children are absent for more than 10% of the time school is in session. They created a brochure providing guidance to parents, and parent workshops were held on the topic. This work was initiated in response to research by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research that shows a high correlation between chronic absenteeism and tardiness in the preschool years with the chronic absenteeism in the early elementary school years and the attendant learning loss.


Parents, schools and social service agency staff members should contact the Collaboration if they believe they know of a child who may qualify for the free preschool programs.

The Collaboration leads a committee composed of the directors of the four public preschool programs to coordinate outreach and recruitment of children and families. The group has developed common recruitment materials and works together to assure proper program placement of children. The committee has identified and used multiple methods for outreach including word-of-mouth campaigns, participation in community outreach activities and a formal referral process with more than 25 social service agencies in Oak Park.

Curriculum and Instruction

The Collaboration works with the four public preschool programs to develop goals for professional development and to facilitate a shared learning community focused on instructional improvement. Areas of focus have included Behavior Management, Child Development and Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Academic Versus Play Debate, Stages of Play: Cognitive and Social, Print Rich Environments and Talking to Children.

Common Screening and Assessment

Through cooperative planning and facilitation, the four public preschool programs decided to use the same screening and assessment indicators and tools to establish baseline data and to assess children's growth and learning. The Collaboration's Professional Development Coordinator provides significant technical assistance to all programs on effective use of the web-based online assessment tool to monitor children's progress. This assessment helps teachers and parents monitor the development of their children.

Public Preschool Resources

These websites provide additional information about free or low-cost preschool programs.

Head Start

Illinois Preschool for All