Even though we are in the middle of winter, programs that run on a school year calendar tend to open registration for the 2023-24 school year in January. (Please note that most programs that are open year-round enroll children throughout the year.) If you are looking for a center- or home-based preschool or child care program, this is a great time to start doing your research, attend virtual open houses, and schedule tours to find and register for preschool starting this fall.
Preschool is very beneficial to young children. Data shows that children who attend preschool are more prepared for kindergarten socially, emotionally, and academically. They have the opportunity to play with others, learn to share, and get accustomed to school routines that make the adjustment to kindergarten easier and help children focus on the work of learning and growing. Below are a few tips to help guide you on your preschool journey. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Lenita, our wonderful Intake Coordinator, is here to help you with all things early childhood. You can call her at 708-613-6122 ext. 8, or you can send her an email.
- Use our Early Childhood Resource Directory to explore programs – This is a great place to start. You can search for local programs by age, calendar year, and a variety of other criteria to help identify a program that best fits your family’s needs. Don’t forget to check out the map at the bottom of the page to see where programs are located in relation to where you live or work, to make pick-up and drop-off trips easy.
- Contact programs for information about open houses or to schedule a tour – Every program is unique and has its own learning philosophy. A great way to get to know a little more about the learning environment of a program is by visiting the space. Programs may have safety protocols in place, so each visit might look a little different.
- Is registration already full at a program of interest? Ask to join their waitlist! – Families and their child care needs are always changing, and openings may arise for new enrollment. Be sure to ask if they offer a waitlist for openings and how to join.
Free Preschool Information
What is Free Preschool? Three programs in Oak Park receive state grants to provide free preschool through the “Preschool for All” and the Pre-Kindergarten (PKP) programs: ABC Toon Town II Educational Center, Oak Park Elementary School District 97 (PKP at Longfellow) and The Day Nursery. These high-quality preschool experiences which support the development of preschool-age children, are available to Oak Park families who meet eligibility criteria such as active military duty status, children with developmental delays, and income level. Each program is unique and our Intake Coordinator can guide families who quality for free preschool programs to the program which is the best fit for their needs.
The key information: Prescreening for free preschool programs’ 2023-24 enrollment begins February 1st. Children must be 3 years old by September 1, 2023 and meet other eligibility criteria to qualify for these programs. To find out more and to schedule a pre screening, call Lenita at 708-613-6122 ext. 8. You can also send her an email.
Additional Financial Assistance Options for Preschool and Child Care
In addition to Preschool for All and state Pre-Kindergarten programs, there are additional options to help families pay for childcare and preschool including scholarships, sliding fee scales, and The Illinois Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). You can search for programs offering financial assistance in our Early Childhood Resource Directory by selecting the “Financial Assistance” filter in the online Early Childhood Resource Directory. You can also call Lenita and she can talk with you about supports available to families to make early childhood care and education programs more affordable.
Preschool is an exciting experience for a child. We are here to help you find a program that is right for your family!
If you are interested in learning more about the exciting diversity of styles and kinds of early childhood programs, we will be hosting early childhood meet and greet events where you can speak with representatives from local early learning programs in person and get your questions answered all in one place. Stay tuned for more information on that in the new year.