• Program Options and Services

    The Pittsburgh Public Schools Early Childhood Education Department provides children, ages Birth to Five, with a comprehensive, flexible program designed to reinforce and respond to the unique strengths and needs of each individual child and family. Programming for Birth to Five services is funded through State, federal and local funding sources. Grant awards are cost allocated to economize funding streams without negatively impacting the quality of services and ensuring the financial sustainability of the program. Funding from multiple sources allows the Early Childhood Program to operate 83 preschool classrooms and 6 early head start classrooms in 35 locations scattered throughout the city, as well as collaborate with over 20 local childcare agencies to provide comprehensive services for children and families.  
    Please click on link to see classroom and contact information: 2023-24 Early Childhood Classroom List

    Education Services

    The curriculum is based on the premise that all children share certain needs, and that their needs are best met through a child-centered developmental program. All programs operate five days a week for six hours a day. The goal is to provide an environment and experiences that bring about a greater degree of school readiness skills and social competence in preschool children. To achieve this goal, we provide a child-centered curriculum that promotes self-confidence, physical abilities, increased academic awareness and social interaction.
    Big Day for PreK is an integrated curriculum that uses Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP), intentional play, and teacher-led instruction to focus on big ideas and guide children in the development of knowledge, skills, and concepts that will prepare them for school success. Big Day for PreK provides learning experiences that integrate all domains, including social-emotional development, oral language, literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, art, and physical development.

    Health, Mental Health, and Disability Services

    Emphasis is placed on early identification of health problems by providing comprehensive health, mental health and disability services. Medical and dental forms and immunization records should be completed prior to entering the program. Follow-up treatment is provided to children that have been identified with health or dental concerns. 
    The Early Childhood Education Department also recognizes the importance of providing psychological services when needed to promote emotional and social development in children. Mental health professionals are available to provide training to staff and parents to help them identify if a child has special needs so that the appropriate support services can be implemented.
    A network of support services is available for children with disabilities. These services allow for early identification and remediation involving diagnosis, consultation, referral, therapy and follow-up treatment. 
    Services are provided to children with visual and/or hearing impairments, physical impairments and social and emotional learning disabilities. At least 10% of the total number of enrollment slots are made available to children with disabilities. 

    Nutrition Services

    Children receive a minimum of one breakfast and one lunch each day, which satisfies one-third to two-thirds of their daily nutritional requirements. The Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) Food Service Department works closely with program staff to design meal plans that meet the proper nutritional needs for students. Children that have been identified with special dietary needs receive specialized meal plans. 

    Social Services

    We have a full complement of social services support staff who provide outreach services to children and families and help to encourage parent participation in program activities. They also assist families with connecting with outside social service agencies and organizations through referrals, emergency assistance and crisis prevention/intervention services. The Early Childhood Education Department adheres to the common code of ethics and ensures confidentiality for all families. 

    Childcare Partnerships

    The Early Childhood Education Department has established formal partnership agreements with a number of childcare agencies throughout the City that are able to provide extended-day programming. The Childcare Partnerships Program option mirrors the school-based classroom model that operates on a school year (10 months) schedule. Some childcare partner agencies offer extended-day services. All children enrolled through the childcare partnership option receive the following services:
    • Support from program coordinators, education coaches and family service specialists;
    • Curriculum (Big Day for PreK);
    • Professional development, including training on curriculum, assessments, Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS), T-Base, and Early Learning Standards;
    • Kindergarten transition support services;
    • Classroom and field trip visits by early learning educational consultants such as Gateway to the Arts, The Carnegie Library BLAST Program, the Carnegie Science Center, and others;
    • Participation in a child care provider network, which includes attending monthly meetings with other child care providers across the City; and
    • Comprehensive screenings for enrolled children, including developmental, vision, hearing and speech services.

    The Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) is a state-funded early childhood program that provides services to two hundred thirty one (231) children between the ages of 3 and 5. This is achieved through a combination of preschool slots in various Pittsburgh Public School classrooms, as well as partnerships with various community child care agencies that provide comprehensive support services to eligible children.  All childcare agencies are enrolled in the Keystone STARS Program, which is a state-wide, quality childcare enhancement program. Some sites are also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). For more information about this program option, please contact Jennifer Fustich, Partnerships Manager, at (412) 529-4590.

    The Pennsylvania Pre-Kindergarten Counts (PKC) Program is a state-funded early childhood program that provides services to nine hundred fifty seven (957) children enrolled in various Pittsburgh Public School classrooms as well as various community early child care centers and licensed nursery schools. All childcare partner sites are either enrolled in the Keystone STARS program or licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).  For more information about this program option, please contact Amber Straub, Partnerships Manager, at (412) 529-8703.

    If you've applied for space in one of our Pre-K classrooms and received a wait list notification, please click the link below to see additional options for enrolling your child at a childcare partner agency site. 

    List of Childcare Partner Agencies


    Early Head Start (EHS) Program


    Early Head Start (EHS) is a federally-funded program for infants, toddlers and pregnant women. The program's goals are:

    • to enhance the development of very young children;
    • to promote healthy pre-natal outcomes for pregnant women; and
    • to promote healthy family functioning.
    Early Head Start services are offered through center-based and home-based program options to 91 families. The center-based options are located in four high schools (Allderdice, Brashear, University Prep, and Westinghouse) and one early childhood center (Crescent) which provides comprehensive education and social services to infants and toddlers of students currently enrolled at one of the high schools. In the home-based option, Home Visitors provide services in children's homes through weekly, 90-minute visits. Children enrolled in the Early Head Start program have the opportunity to transition to the preschool program when they turn 3 years old.
    The Early Head Start Program also collaborates with accredited infant/toddler childcare agencies to provide comprehensive services to 35 children.
    For more information about this program option, please call (412) 529-4291, Select Option 3.
    Please click on link to see classroom and contact information:  2023-24 Early Head Start Classroom List


    Parent Engagement


    Parents are the most important influence on a child's development. An essential component of early childhood education is the involvement of parents in the planning and development process. Parents have the opportunity to serve as members of the Policy Council and its various sub-committees. The purpose of Policy Council is to facilitate the objectives of the program so that all children receive the maximum benefits of a comprehensive child development program. Serving as a Policy Council member enables parents to have meaningful input into the administrative decision-making process. All parents of enrolled children are welcome to participate.

    Parents can volunteer as teacher aides, field trip chaperones and assist with various activities that promote parent engagement. All volunteers must have current Act 33 (Child Abuse History) and Act 34 (Criminal Record Check) clearances as well as a recent TB test. Parents have the ability to participate in events that promote their own personal growth and development and increase their knowledge and awareness about early learning standards through activities sponsored by the School District, and federal and State education authorities such as the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the National Head Start Association (NHSA), the Pennsylvania Head Start Association (PHSA) and Trying Together. Through participation in classes, local meetings, workshops and home visits, parents learn about the educational, social, and emotional needs of their child and can collaborate with staff to learn best practices to become strong support systems for their families.
    To learn more about parent engagement and volunteer opportunities, please contact the Family Services Specialist assigned to your child's classroom. 2023-24 Early Childhood Classroom List


    Family Options Programs

    In 2012, program offerings were expanded to include a tuition-based option to serve preschool children whose family household income exceeds 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Families interested in this option should contact the main office at (412) 529-4291 (Select Option 2) to find out more information or inquire about slot openings.