Children Services
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Service

Preschool Programs

Children exposed to early child care and education programs get the advantage they need to succeed in school and beyond. Making new friends or discovering new concepts are just some of the exciting encounters children have in early care. That's why parents are encouraged to give their children an early start in education by enrolling them in an early learning program.

DFSS administers programs suited for all family types with varying needs. From half-day to full-day programs, some with cost, others free offered to children from 3 to 5 year-old including those with disabilities.

Programs are organized in two categories: Head Start and Child Care. Both provide the same level of quality development for children but the income guidelines are different and some of the support services may vary.

Head Start

Pre-School Program child photo

Head Start is an early childcare and education program for children ages 3 to 5 from low-income families. The comprehensive program promotes school readiness, provides nutritious meals and access to free medical and dental services. In addition, Head Start offers parents educational and training programs.

Federally funded and administered by FSS, Head Start has locations throughout the city in community-based organizations, private day care programs and Chicago Public Schools. Head Start children get the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.

 

What Can Head Start Offer Your Child?

Head Start provides a safe and nurturing environment with activities that focus on three main categories:

  • Literacy and school-readiness: From letter recognition to spelling their name, children gain the fundamental skills that prepare them for kindergarten and help build a love for learning and readiness to succeed.
  • Health and Hygiene: Hand washing, brushing teeth and nutritious meals and snacks are just some of the ways Head Start helps children establish routines that create healthy habits. The program provides free medical and dental services including vision and hearing tests, nutritional assessments, dental exams, immunizations and follow-up care. Mental health and other services are available for children with special needs.
  • Socialization: The Head Start classroom provides children with opportunities to interact with others through play, toy sharing and completing joint tasks. Children learn to make friends, solve problems and have other experiences that help them build self-confidence.

Which Head Start Program Is Right For Your Family?

There are several types of Head Start programs to help parents meet their family’s need:

  Full Day Program Half Day Program

Where do programs operate?

  • Community based organizations
  • Licensed childcare homes
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Community based organizations
  • Chicago Public Schools

What are the basic eligibility guidelines?

  • Families must meet income guidelines
  • Children must be between 3 and 5 years old
  • Parents must work or go to school
  • Families must meet income guidelines
  • Children must be between 3 and 5 years old

What does the program include?

  • Educational activities
  • Healthy meals and snacks
  • Social, health and dental services
  • Parent involvement
  • Qualified teachers
  • Educational activities
  • Healthy meals and snacks
  • Social, health and dental services
  • Parent involvement
  • Qualified teachers

How much does the program cost?

  • Families pay a small co-payment based on a sliding scale
  • Free

 

Child Care

Preschool Children

The state-funded program also provides quality care for children ages 3 to 5. Parents must work or be enrolled in school or training and meet the income guidelines to qualify. Programs are offered full day and full year for a small co-payment.

How To Enroll

Call 312.823.1100 to locate a site near you. You will receive a list of up to three sites in your neighborhood. Contact the sites directly; the staff will be happy to explain their enrollment process and services in detail.


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