Durham County offers a collaborative Universal Pre-K Application so that families can apply one time and be considered for placement in multiple public Pre-K programs across Durham. All applicant children will receive a developmental screening.
Due to COVID-19 school closures, Durham PreK is no longer enrolling for the 2019-2020 school year.
Minimum requirements to apply for Pre-K:
- Child lives in Durham County
- Child will be four years old on or before August 31 of the year the child will attend preschool
Ways to begin Durham’s Universal Pre-K Application:
- Visit the Durham PreK website.
- Complete the online application. Counselors are available to help, if needed.
- Download and print a PDF of the full application.
- Call 1-833-PREK-EDU (1-833-773-5338). Se hablan español.
- Complete an interest form and an application counselor will contact you:
Universal Pre-K programs
Your 4-year-old child may be eligible to attend one of Durham County’s licensed, high-quality public preschool programs through the following programs:
- Durham Public Schools
- The Whitted School (managed by DPS)
- Licensed community child care centers
- Durham Head Start
Map and site list
For an interactive map and the full list of sites across Durham County that use the Universal Pre-K Application click here. This list of sites is subject to change.
Who is eligible to apply?
All of these programs work to prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten. ALL age-eligible children who live in Durham County are invited to apply. Depending on the program, children who may be considered “at-risk” academically, financially, medically, etc. will be given priority placement. Most public Pre-K slots will be free for families. Some slots have a monthly fee based on Durham PreK's income-based sliding scale.
Calendars and schedules
Most programs follow the traditional DPS school calendar, except for classrooms in year-round elementary schools which follow the year-round DPS school calendar. The Pre-K instructional day is 6.5 hours. Each Title I Pre-K classroom follows their school's bell schedule.
Transportation and before/after-care
Each family is responsible for coordinating their child’s transportation and before/after care -- these are not provided by the Pre-K programs. A limited number of sites in the community offer before/after care for a fee. If you need support with finding transportation or before/aftercare so your child can attend Pre-K, you can send an email to email@example.com or call 1-855-EARLY-ED (1-855-327-5933) to speak with a child care referral counselor who can help you explore local options that may be available to you.
DPS Montessori magnet Pre-K programs
Families who also want to be considered for placement in a Pre-K program at a DPS Montessori Elementary School (Watts and Morehead Magnet School) need to apply separately through the magnet schools lottery process. There may be a monthly fee for these DPS Montessori slots based on Durham Public Schools' income-based sliding scale. The DPS magnet application is open ONLY during the month of January. Call the DPS Office of Student Assignment at (919) 560-2059 for more information and assistance. We highly encourage families to complete the Universal Pre-K Application as well, since there are very limited slots in the Montessori programs.
Follow us on DPS Pre-K social media for updates:
DPS Student and Family Assistance
If your family is currently experiencing homelessness or insecure housing and this is a barrier for your child in accessing Pre-K education, visit the DPS Student and Family Assistance page or contact the DPS McKinney-Vento district liaison, Ebony Thomas, at 919-560-3927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other local Pre-Kindergarten resources:
Book Harvest / Book Babies | 252-497-2665
Child Care Services Association | 919-403-6950
Durham's Alliance for Child Care Access | 919-560-8300
Durham Early Head Start | 919-439-7107
Durham Head Start | 919-688-5541
Durham’s Partnership for Children | 919-403-6960
East Durham Children’s Initiative | 919-908-8709