NYS-TEACHS › Info by Topic: Preschool

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Early Childhood Education

Resources | Laws and Guidance

Pre-K programs offer a crucial opportunity for young children to develop their social, emotional and cognitive skills. The McKinney-Vento Act protects preschool children in temporary housing and gives them the right to continued enrollment and transportation to their district of origin. In addition, younger children must have access to early intervention services. 42 U.S.C. 11432(g)(3)(I)(i).

Click on the links below to learn more about preschool for students experiencing homelessness.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Find answers to commonly asked questions about preschool for students in temporary housing situations.


Self-Assessment Tool for Early Childhood Programs Serving Families Experiencing Homelessness

Ounce of Prevention Fund and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released the "Self-Assessment Tool for Early Childhood Programs Serving Families Experiencing Homelessness," a tool designed for child care, Head Start and Early Head Start, and public pre-k programs as a guide for welcoming and supporting families and children experiencing homelessness into these programs. This tool contains recommendations for making early childhood programs more responsive to the unique needs of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families who experience homelessness in five areas: Identification and Support; Removal of Barriers; Responding to Family Needs; Engagement in Strategic Collaboration; and Improving Collection, Reporting and Utilization of Data. The tool includes additional resources to support programs.

Directory of New York State Child Care Coordinating Council (NYSCCCC) Affiliates: Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Program

Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) programs have three major purposes: to provide information and referral services to families seeking early care and education programming for their children (special emphasis on low-income families), to provide technical assistance to individuals and organization seeking to develop early care and education programs, and to provide training and educational opportunities for programs and individuals.

Everything You Need to Know: Enrolling Children who are Homeless in Early Head Start and Head Start [PDF]

This presentation was given at the March 21, 2016 New York State Head Start Association Conference. It can be downloaded as a PDF or PPT file.

Tip Sheet for Head Start Programs

All Head Start Programs must prioritize children who are homelessness for enrollment. They also must collect data on the number of children enrolled who are homeless. This Tip Sheet has information about how Head Start programs can identify children experiencing homelessness and connect them with Head Start Programs. For a template Housing Questionnaire for Head Start Programs, see below.

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) Summary of Final Head Start Regulations Related to Homelessness

This NAEHCY document summarizes the September 2016 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services comprehensive revision of the Head Start Performance Standards. These final regulations apply to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.


Housing Questionnaire for Head Start Programs

This Housing Questionnaire should be used by Head Start staff as a part of the enrollment process to identify any child who is homeless.

Pre-K Class Size Variance Request

Pre-K classrooms have a maximum size at twenty children, but can be expanded. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) will grant a class-size variance to allow a 21st child in the classroom if that child is in temporary housing. To get a variance, the Pre-K program should complete this Pre-K Class Size Variance Request and email it to NYSED’s Office of Early Learning at oel@nysed.gov. For more information, see NYSED’s 2015 Guidance Memo.

Laws and Guidance

Grace Period for Enrolling Children without Medical Records and/or Immunization Documentation in Licensed Registered Child Care Programs

In March 2017, the New York State Office of Chilren and Family Services issued this Policy Statement, #17-1: "Grace Period for Enrolling Children without Medical Records and/or Immunization Documentation in Licensed Registered Child Care Programs," which explains that licensed child care providers should give parents up to 14 days to provide proof of immunization and request a waiver to the medical statement/physical requirement if the family is experiencing homelessness and the parent does not have the child's medical statement/physical when the child enrolls in child care. While the parent is getting the needed documentation, the provider should allow children who are homeless to receive child care services.

Child Care Services for Families Experiencing Homelessness and Differential Payment Rates

On Friday, April 28, 2017, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services issued this Local Commissioners Memorandum (LCM), 17 OCFS LCM-05: "Child Care Services for Families Experiencing Homelessness and Differential Payment Rates." The LCM informs social services districts about recent changes to State regulations regarding the provision of child care services funded under the New York State Child Care Block Grant (NYSCCBG) and Title XX of the federal Social Security Act. The changes include:

  • adding families experiencing homelessness as a priority population;
  • adding certain families experiencing homelessness to the category of eligible families when districts have funds available;
  • exempting families experiencing homelessness from contributing to the cost of care;
  • providing an allowable grace period for children to attend child care programs;
  • establishing a differential payment rate for child care services provided to a child experiencing homelessness;
  • and amendments to the provisions for differential payment rates to child care providers who are accredited by a nationally recognized child care organization and/or provide care during nontraditional hours.

NYSED Memo: Information on Transportation of Prekindergarten Students under Four Years of Age

This memorandum from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of Early Learning and the Office of Educational Management Services provides information about student transportation safety for students under four years of age, including information on appropriate car seats and bus monitors.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, Reauthorized by Title IX Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) [PDF]

This document is the full text of the federal reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act under the Every Sstudent Succeeds Act (ESSA), which went into effect on October 1, 2016. Amendments to the McKinney-Vento Act now require state education plans to make sure that children in temporary housing have access to public preschool programs, and the definition of school of origin now includes preschool.

New York State Education Law Section 3209 [PDF]

Important changes to New York State Education Law Section 3209 went into effect on April 20, 2017, including enrollment and transportation protections for preschool students in temporary housing. Preschool is included in the definition of district of origin and school of origin in subsection 2, and pre-school students in temporary housing now have transportation rights.

NYSED Field Memo: District-Administered Pre-K Programs for Children in Temporary Housing

This June 2015 field memo from the NY State Education Department provides guidance on the rights of students in temporary housing to access public preschool education programs offered by a school district. It also provides guidance to school districts on outreach and identification of preschool age temporarily housed children, how to request funding and seek class-size variance requests for programs that may already be full, and other early childhood education programs and services that may be available.

Regulations of the Commissioner of The New York State Education Department

Preschool Special Education Services are discussed in Part 200.16(a)-(f). The regulations provide guidance on the referral process as well as specific information on the timeline for ensuring the delivery of services.

Serving Preschool Children Through Title I, Non Regulatory Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (2012) [PDF]

This guidance provides important information about how Title I funds may be used for preschool services for children in temporary housing, including pre-k and Head Start.


Workshops and Training Materials

Training and Workshop Materials