Pittsburgh Public Schools Early Childhood Program Brings Quality to Preschool Education

Written by Stacey Andell for Schools K-12

Educational Program Services

All Pittsburgh Schools Early Childhood Programs cover five days a week, for at least six hours a day.   The goal of the program is to ensure that preschool children develop the skills that they will need for attending kindergarten, including self confidence, physical abilities, increased academic awareness, and social interaction.  

This free program is open to children between three and five years old.   Pittsburgh School Head Start Programs accept children between three and five, while the Pre – Kindergarten accepts children who are three and four years old.   Children must be at least three years old by September 1st of the current school year.  

Health Program Services

Children participating in the Pittsburgh Schools Early Childhood Program have access to a variety of health services to evaluate their health needs and identify problems early on.   All students entering the program must provide complete medical records, including immunizations.   Follow up care on the health condition of the child is provided.  

The Pittsburgh Schools Early Childhood Program recognizes the need for mental and psychological assistance to preschool children in order to develop the emotional and social skills necessary for attending school and being successful in school.   Parent and mental health professionals work together to recognize the special needs of each child and prepare special courses of instruction or treatment for those children who require special attention.   

Children in the Pittsburgh Schools Early Childhood Program receive two meals every day.  A nutritionist helps prepare the meals as well as help parents design meal programs that suit the needs of their preschool students.   Special services are also provided for students with disabilities involving diagnosis, therapy, consultation, referral, and follow up treatment.   A minimum of 10% of the children participating in the Pittsburgh Schools Early Childhood Program must be children with disabilities.  Staff and parental counseling is provided to ensure that these children can participate in the program.   

Childcare Partnerships

Many working parents can take advantage of subsidies for childcare for children that are eligible for the Head Start program.   Pittsburgh Schools have developed partnership agreements with a number of child care and early learning agencies throughout the city.   These programs provide learning opportunities for children that are similar to the school based programs in the Pittsburgh Public Schools Early Childhood Program.   These childcare providers have been screened by Pittsburgh Public Schools and been provided with curriculum, materials, and training to match the school based programs.

The Pittsburgh Public School Early Childhood Program Selection Process

All City of Pittsburgh residents who meet the age criteria are eligible to participate in a lottery for places within various classrooms in the Pittsburgh Public Schools Early Childhood Program.   These lotteries will take into account whether children have a sibling who is already attending a Pittsburgh Public School.  Children who do have siblings are given priority over those who do not.   Many of the special classrooms, such as the one at the Children’s Museum will have other conditions to ensure that there is an equal racial and gender mix of students.