Head Start

Our Head Start centers provide low-income children ages 3 to 5 with a safe, stimulating environment that encourages cognitive, social, and emotional development. We emphasize hands-on, play-based learning that teaches children academic concepts in ways that make sense to them and get them excited about school.

We also support parents as primary caregivers so that they are able to encourage their children’s development on their own.

All of our sites serve breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack. We instill healthy habits both by teaching about them in the classroom in hands-on activities — such as growing vegetables — and by offering food that’s cooked on the premises and exceeds nutritional requirements. We also support children’s physical health through a unique collaboration with Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider, and by offering in-person and virtual pediatric care through a partnership with Strong Children Wellness; and we offer mental health services through The Child Center’s Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative. In addition, our educators have special training in teaching dual language learners.

Centers operate Monday-Friday, full-day and year-round. We accept children through a variety of funding sources, including the NYC Department of Education, which encompasses Head Start and is supplemented with 3-K and Pre-K for All for all. Please see our latest Head Start annual report for more information about our Head Start programs. All of our Head Start programs are free for eligible children.


Apply for enrollment in any of our Head Start or Early Head Start programs.

  • Senior Program Director: Yolanda Vega yolandavega@childcenterny.org
  • Hours: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Special services: 3-K and Pre-K for All; coordination of services for children with special needs; early childhood mental health services; parenting classes; health and nutrition services. In partnership with New York Center for Child Development, this center has an integrated classroom that includes children with special needs along with children who are typically developing. Our inclusion of children with special needs sets us apart from most other Head Start programs. This site also offers an Early Head Start program for children ages 0-3.
  • Through our partnership with Strong Children Wellness, families also can access high-quality pediatric primary health services through virtual or in-person visits (at our Jamaica Family Wellness Center) with a Board-certified pediatrician.
  • Admission Criteria: Program is for low-income children; children with special needs are welcome
  • Ages accepted: 3 to 5 years
  • Languages spoken: English, Spanish, Bengali
  • Public transportation: Subway—#7 to 103rd or 111 Street. Buses—Q48 to 108 Street and 34th Avenue

  • Program Director: Tracey Elting traceyelting@childcenterny.org
  • Hours: Mon-Fri: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Special services: 3-K and Pre-K for All; mental health services, parenting classes, health and nutrition services. This site also offers an Early Head Start classroom-based program for 2-year-old children.
  • Admission Criteria: Program is for low-income children; children with special needs are welcome
  • Ages accepted: 3- and 4-year-olds
  • Languages spoken: English, Spanish
  • Public Transportation: Subway—#1, B, C to 86th Street. Buses—M7, M11, M86, M104

Please read our blog post From Pre-K to K for an inside look at how Escalera prepares its students for kindergarten.

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