Early Learning Programs in Minnesota

September 13, 2016

Help prepare your child to be successful in school and life.

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Minnesota has several options for families focused on getting children ready for kindergarten and beyond. These programs promote school readiness and support the role of parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. Children with special needs are entitled to early special education services and now, more than ever, low-income families have access to high quality learning programs for their children.

However, all pre-kindergarten programs are voluntary, so it is up to the parent to enroll their child and give the child a jump start in learning and school success.

Whether or not your child has special needs, below is a list of some types of early learning programs to choose from:

  • Early Childhood Family Education: For all children. Begins at birth with the goal of improving the family’s ability to provide the best possible learning environment for the child.
  • Early Childhood Special Education: For children with special needs who are found eligible for services.
  • Early Learning Scholarships: For financially eligible children 3–4 years old; Used in approved pre-kindergartens.
  • Early Head Start and Head Start: For financially eligible children 3–5 years old.
  • Community education pre-school programs: Offered through school districts.
  • Family Child Care (FCC) homes: Licensed through the county.
  • Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP): Subsidized child care for financial eligible families.

New this year!

Starting this school year Minnesota is providing voluntary pre-kindergarten through the school districts and some Charter schools. Voluntary pre-kindergarten is free to all children who are four years of age as of September.

Where to begin?

Parents can contact their local school district or visit the Minnesota Department of Education at education.state.mn.us and the Minnesota Department of Human Services at mn.gov/dhs. Also a great resource in helping families find the best program for their child is the Parent Aware Program at parentaware.org.

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