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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.
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.
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