Seattle’s universal pre-K program launches this September, nearly two years after mayor Ed Murray pitched the plan as a means of reducing the so-called preparedness gap faced by incoming kindergartners, especially those from low-income families. Before you pack your toddlers off to school, though, take some time to school yourself on the details.

Where do I send my kids?

It’s not that simple. If you didn’t fill out an application by early August, you’ll have to wait for the 2016–17 school year.

Application? I thought this was universal.

That’s the plan, but it’ll take a few years before there are enough classrooms to serve every three- and four-year old in the city. In the meantime, there’ll be a lottery for the limited spots.

Ah. And we all know how long Seattle Public Schools will take to get its act together.

Actually, SPS isn’t in charge. But it, along with every other qualified preschool, can apply to be a provider. The newly formed Department of Education and Early Learning oversees the program.

Will my kids fall behind if they stay at their current childcare provider?

Not necessarily. The program’s curriculum is meant to prepare students for kindergarten, but that’s not to say your child’s preschool doesn’t do the same thing. The intent here is to serve underserved populations.

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