Applying for Pre-K

  • PreK



  • Apply to Durham Pre-K!

    Durham County offers the collaborative, Durham PreK Application, so that families can apply at one time and be considered for placement in multiple public Pre-K programs across Durham. Applicant children will receive a developmental screening.

     Minimum requirements to apply for Pre-K:

    1. Child lives in Durham County.
    2. Child will be four years old on or before August 31 of the year the child will attend preschool.

    Ways to begin Durham PreK Application:

      1. Visit the Durham PreK website.
      2. Apply here.
      3. Call 1-833-PREK-EDU (1-833-773-5338).  Se habla español. 

    View Family Info Session:

      1. English Family Info Session.
      2. Español Sesión de información familiar.

    Durham PreK programs

    Your 4-year-old child may be eligible to attend one of Durham county’s high-quality preschool classrooms 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 Durham PreK 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. However, some slots have a monthly fee based on Durham PreK's income-based sliding scale.


    Calendars and schedules

    Most of our programs follow the traditional DPS school calendar and a few programs 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

    Transportation and before/after school care is not provided by the Pre-K program. Each family is responsible for coordinating their child’s transportation to and from their assigned program. 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 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 scaleThe 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 slots in the Montessori programs are limited.

    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


    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

Pre-K for Exceptional Children

  • Have concerns about your preschool-age child’s development?


    Click here for information about Durham Public Schools’ preschool services for Exceptional Children.