• Early Childhood FAQ

    Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Early Childhood:
    1. Why should I enroll my child in an early childhood program?
    Children who start behind, stay behind.  Research shows that 90% of children who are poor readers in the first grade will still read poorly by fourth grade. Evidence shows that children who have the benefit of a preschool education fair better on standardized tests.  Evidence also suggests that attending a preschool program may increase high school graduation rates.

    2. How old does my child have to be to enroll in the Early Childhood Program?
    Children accepted in the preschool program must be 3 to 5 years old.  Children may enter the program at the time after they turn three, regardless of the time of the year, as long as there is space available in a classroom. Children may stay in the program until they are eligible to enter kindergarten.  We also have an Early Head Start component for children ages birth to 3.  Please see Early Childhood Services and Program Descriptions webpage for more information.

    3. Does my child have to live in the Pittsburgh Public School District to attend the Early Childhood Program?
    Yes.  Children must reside in the Pittsburgh Public School District. Enter your home address to determine the closest school where you reside:  PPS Discover

    4. Is there a fee for enrolling my child?
    Enrollment is based on certain eligibility criteria. There is no cost to income-eligible families for enrolling children in the program. There is a fee-for-service model for families whose income is 300% and above the federal poverty guidelines. Your child can also be waitlisted if your household gross income is over 130% of the Federal Poverty Level Guidelines.

    5. Where are classrooms located?
    See list of classroom locations:  2023-24 Early Childhood Classroom List

    6. Do I have to choose a school in my own neighborhood?
    No.  You may select any location, depending on availability.  Transportation is not provided.

    7. How many days a week does the program operate?
    Children attend five days a week, Monday through Friday, for six hours a day.  The program runs from the last week in August through the first week in June. For hours of operation for a specific location, please view the list of classroom locations: 2023-24 Early Childhood Classroom List

    8. How many children are in a class?
    Typically, there are up to 20 students per class with one teacher and one educational assistant in each classroom.

    9. What will my child learn?
    The goal is to ensure children develop appropriate literacy, math, critical thinking and social skills to help them succeed in preschool and make a smooth transition to kindergarten.  Children learn these skills by interacting with the teacher, their peers, and in addition to exposure to the Frog Street Curriculum, which focuses on promoting STEAM (Science, Technology, Education, Arts and Mathematics) learning. Children are not required to be potty-trained to be enrolled in the program.

    10. What other services are available through the Early Childhood Program?
    Nutrition:  Children receive breakfast and lunch each day.  The meals meet one-third to two-thirds of their daily nutritional needs. 
    Health:  Health consultants work with the program to provide initial screenings for children and referrals are provided to families to receive follow-up care for the child when health concerns have been identified.
    Mental Health/Disabilities:  A network of support services is available to provide early identification and remediation services for children with special needs. Mental health professionals provide training to staff and parents to help increase awareness of early diagnosis and treatment of mental health or disability concerns.
    Social Services:  A network of information, referrals, emergency assistance and crisis intervention services are available to all families as needed.  Social service support staff provide outreach services to families through collaboration with community organizations and encourage parent participation through program volunteerism.
    Early Head Start: Comprehensive services are provided for children, from ages birth to 3, in center-based and home-based program options. The center-based options are located in four high schools classrooms (Allderdice, Brashear, University Prep, and Westinghouse) and two classrooms in the Crescent Early Childhood facility where services are provided to infants and toddlers of Pittsburgh Public high school students.  Home visiting staff provide direct support services through the home-based program option.
    Childcare Partnerships: Partnerships have been formed with a number of childcare and early learning agencies throughout the City for families eligible for Head Start services that may need an extended-day program to accommodate work or school schedules.  Children enrolled at local daycare sites receive the same services offered in the Pittsburgh Public classroom-based program option.

    11. How do I apply?
    The Early Childhood Program does not have a paper application process. Please submit an application online. Online Preschool Application. You will need to upload the following documentation with your application:
    • A copy of your child’s birth certificate, passport or I9.
    • A copy of your child’s immunization records (documents must show the child's full name and birthdate).
    • A copy of your child’s last physical and dental exams (documents must show the child's full name and birthdate).
    • Verification of income. Acceptable forms include:  one consistent month's worth of pay stubs, a W-2 Wage and Tax Statement, DHS printout/benefits statement, or income tax return that is dated within the last calendar year.
    • Two current proofs of residency. Acceptable proof includes: utility bill, driver’s license, rent/mortgage agreement.  Documents must show your full name, address and current date.

    12. Will my child be accepted if I apply?
    If there is a greater interest in one location than the spaces available, a lottery will be held for those locations.  When a classroom fills up, children are placed on a waiting list for the next available opening.

    13.  How does the Lottery application process work?
    The Early Childhood Program is not a part of the District's Magnet Program process.  We run a separate lottery for the preschool program.  The lottery application period is February through March. The lottery is run in mid-April and parents are notified in mid-May.  The link for the application changes every school year.  DO NOT USE the current link if you are only interested in applying for the following school year. During the lottery period, children must be 3 years old by September 30 in the school year in which you are applying.  

    If you apply after the lottery window and/or your child turns 3 years old after September 30, you can still apply as we will continue to accept applications on a rolling basis as space becomes available.  If there are no spaces at the locations of your choice, your child may be placed on the wait list. Please apply 2 weeks before your child's birthday when born after September 30.