Pre-K3 in Jersey City: Getting Started

Preschool in Jersey City is a huge topic. Last year I held several workshops with parents to help explain the process. Please feel free to send any and all questions as comments to this post, through our Facebook page, or directly to my personal email address.

Here’s how the Pre-K3 public school option works in Jersey City.

Every kid who is 3 years old by October 1 of that school year is eligible for the public school option as long as they live in Jersey City. No exceptions are made for age or location. If you’re almost 3 by  October 1 – no dice. If you’re moving to Jersey City during the school year but haven’t closed on your new house yet, no dice. Your kid has to be 3 by 10/1 and you have to prove Jersey City residency at the time of registration. That’s the rule.


Once you have that, you have a little bit of wiggle room. Because many (most?) of the schools are using all of their available space, they don’t have room for the Pre-K3 kids. The city makes up for that by offering the Pre-K3 program in locations that they call “Contracted Child Care Centers.” It’s your job to find out which is your local school. You can call 201-915-6045 and provide your address. Sadly this isn’t something you can google, and there’s no online database that will answer this question for you. You have to call them and ask.

Once you find out which is your local school, you need to find out if that school has the Pre-K3 classrooms. If it doesn’t, you then choose from the list of contracted child care centers. I just called the district – the list of contracted child care centers isn’t up yet. He said it should be up next week, and that I should call back. I will update this post when it’s up, but for now, let’s keep checking at the Board of Education’s website.

Registration for the Pre-K3 program happens at the end of February, beginning of March. (Specific dates aren’t available yet – let’s keep each other posted on this too.) You will need the following information to register:

  • Child’s Birth Certificate and a copy
  • Immunization Records and a copy
  • TWO Proofs of Residency and a copy, such as:
    • PSE&G Bill
    • Cable Bill
    • Other Utility Bill
  • Photo ID of Parent and a copy

Finally, the Pre-K3 program uses the High/Scope curriculum, provides both breakfast and lunch, does have nap time, and does not provide transportation to contracted child care centers.

img_1423-1Sign up to follow the blog. Upcoming posts include discussions on specific schools, suggestions on how to choose or evaluate schools, other pedagogical approaches (including Montessori), and options including private, religious, and cooperative schools. 

Posted by

Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

14 thoughts on “Pre-K3 in Jersey City: Getting Started

    1. We haven’t planned any dates for workshops yet but we are offering in-home sessions for individuals and small groups. Email me msmel1979@gmail to book a date!

      1. Hi Mel,

        Do you have any workshops coming up? I am very interested to find out more about my options for Pre-K3 for my son for this year.


    1. It’s a screenshot – I used it for last year’s presentations. Unfortunately the data are not yet updated from the city so it’s not useful until they do.

  1. If you have to go with a contracted center, do you have to pay the tuition or would it be covered by the board if it’s their space issue?

    1. Great question! You pay for before and after care if you use them, but not for the school day if you’re enrolled in the program. So if you don’t use the before or after care, you don’t pay. Hope that helps!

  2. Thanks so much for this post! My daughter turns 3 in June and I didn’t really have any plans of enrolling my daughter into pre-k 3. I was thinking I’d probably enroll her next year or of course the required year after. So I didn’t feel the urgency to get information about it yet. Not until a few of my mommy friends started asking if I was going to put my daughter in school this year.. and one of them directed me to your blog. Now I am re-evaluating and may enroll her this yr. So glad I came across your blog, it has been extremely helpful! 🙂

    Btw I know you mentioned above that the list of contracted childcare centers isn’t up yet on the board of ed website. I was able to find the 2016-2017 list… Is that the latest that you saw too or are we waiting for the 2017-2018 list to be posted?

    1. Thanks for reading! The list isn’t up yet – I’m not sure what they’re waiting for. Registration ususally begins in March, maybe they’re waiting for March?

    1. Parents can choose which contacted child care center they prefer, however there are space limitations. Each individual contracted childcare center has its own enrollment procedures and policies so I would recommend reaching out to each one that you are interested in attending.

      1. Thanks for the information. How can I find out which ones are better? I know i have heard about Concordia but would also like to have another back up just in case.

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