Children who have positive, high quality early learning experiences are better prepared for school socially and academically. Below are a few tips to help guide you on your preschool journey. 

  • 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

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 and runs through early fall. Children must be 3 years old by September 1, 2023 and meet other eligibility criteria to qualify for these programs.

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.

Preschool is an exciting experience for a child. We are here to help you find a program that is right for your family! To learn more about whether your child qualifies for Publicly Funded Preschool, complete the form below or call 708-613-6122 ext. 8.

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