PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Multnomah County families can now apply to place their children in the free Preschool For All programs. Enrollment opened Wednesday, April 13. 

The preschool programs are free for all children who are accepted. The pilot program begins in September and Multnomah County said there are 677 slots open for eligible families

All children who will be 3 or 4 years old by Sept. 1 are eligible for the program.

The county encourages families to apply early and said applications will not be accepted once the county receives enough applications for the limited seats available. 

Families who have the least access to high-quality preschool will be prioritized in the application process. This includes families of color, migrant and refugee children, children who speak languages other than English, children with disabilities, children of teen parents or of military families, children living in foster care and children from families affected by low incomes or homelessness. 

Families applying are asked to look at the list of preschool options and choose the ones that would work best for them. They can rank up to three different preschool programs in their application. There’s a map of preschools to choose from available online.  

In its first year, Preschool For All will offer two main schedules for families. One will be a full-day schedule with up to 10 hours of care. The other will be a school-day schedule, ​​which operates on a traditional school year calendar for approximately six hours per day. Some pilot sites offer care at special hours for families with alternate schedules.

The county states that submitting an application does not guarantee a child will be accepted to a preschool program. Families will be notified about the application decisions in early July. 

If anyone needs help with the application process, Family Navigators are available through the county and can provide assistance. The application is available in multiple languages

In November 2020, Multnomah County voters decided to approve funding for Preschool For All. The service is funded by a 1.5% tax on income over $125,000 for individuals and $200,000 for joint filers, and an additional 1.5% on taxable income over $250,000 for individuals and $400,000 for joint filers. 

While the program is only open to 677 students the first year, the county plans to develop and expand the system over the next 10 years and anticipates it will eventually serve 15,000 to 19,000 kids.