Preschool isn't mandatory in Milwaukee but it's highly recommended by education experts, as it's been shown to boost education achievement. Milwaukee offers a number of different preschool options, including subsidized full pay programs and free programs.
Most schools (district, charter, and even some private schools) offer free early education programs for 4-year-olds, known as "K4 kindergarten" programs. Some schools even offer free kindergarten for 3-year-olds who have been identified with special education needs through Head Start. Other free preschool options include Head Start and HIPPY programs for qualifying families. To attend a free K3 or K4 program, a child must be either 3 or 4 years old by September 1st. Some K3 Head Start programs accept students as soon as they celebrate their third birthday, so check with providers for more information.
Subsidized Full Pay Programs
Privately operated preschools typically cost between $1,000 and $1,400 a month in Milwaukee, depending on the child's age and number of hours attending. Parents who qualify for financial or support services from the state are generally eligible for subsidized preschool. Parents can apply for benefits using the state's online application tool, ACCESS
, or in person at 1220 W. Vliet Street, between 7:30-4:30 M-F.Head Start
Head Start is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. Early Head Start is for children from birth through age 3; Head Start is for ages 3-5.
To qualify for a Head Start seat, income must be at or below poverty level, or the family must be homeless, have children in foster care, or receive Supplemental Security Income or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Recruitment for preschool classes for the Head Start program starts in June and again in early January for 3, K4 and K5, but many programs enroll students year-round.
Milwaukee has four Head Start providers with many sites throughout the city, including the Next Door Foundation, Council for the Spanish Speaking (bilingual English/Spanish), Milwaukee Public Schools, and Acelero.HIPPY
Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) is a school-readiness program that helps parents prepare their three-, four-, and five-year old children for success in school and beyond. Parents are provided with a set of carefully developed curriculum materials designed to strengthen their children's cognitive and early literacy skills, and their social/emotional and physical development. The HIPPY program was developed by Milwaukee community organizations, in cooperation with Milwaukee Public Schools.
Assessing an early childhood program can be tricky. In Wisconsin, the Department of Children and Families created the YoungStar program to improve the quality of childcare for Wisconsin children. YoungStar evaluates and rates the quality of care at Wisconsin childcare facilities on a scale of 1-5 stars. Understanding YoungStar ratings can help you choose the best early education program for your child.
Helpful resourcesYoungStarMilwaukee Public Schools - Early Childhood
5225 W Vliet St.Milwaukee, WI 53201414-475-8095Acelero's Head Start Program
11414 W Park Place, Ste 202Milwaukee, WI 53224414-751-8988Centro Hispano's Head Start Program
614 W National AveMilwaukee, WI 53204414-384-3700Next Door Foundation's Head Start
2545 N 29th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53210
414-562-2929COA Center - HIPPY Program
909 E. North Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53212
414-263-8383National Council of Jewish Women - HIPPY ProgramThe Parenting Network - HIPPY Program
7516 W Burleigh St.
Milwaukee, WI 53210