Durham PreK

When you complete the Universal Pre-K (UPK) Application, you are applying for a pre-K seat in the following types of pre-K classrooms:

  • Durham Public Schools (DPS)
  • Durham Head Start (DHS)
  • Community-based licensed programs

What do all of these classrooms have in common?

  • Birth-Kindergarten licensed teachers
  • Research-based curriculum that values play to keep children engaged and excited about learning
  • High-quality learning environments
  • 5-star rating from NC Division of Child Development and Early Education
  • Low student-teacher ratios

Why Does Durham Have a Universal Pre-K Application?

  • Families can apply through any pre-K partner agency
  • Children are considered for all public pre-K seats in Durham County (except for Watts and Morehead Magnet Schools, which use the DPS magnet application )
  • Pre-K partners identify the most appropriate classroom for your child

Overall Eligibility Requirements

  • Children must be Durham County residents
  • Children must turn 4 years old by August 31 of the applying school year

What Is Considered During Child Placement?

The Pre-K Partners (DPS, DPfC, DHS and CCSA) consider the following information for child placement:

  • Designated address (home or work, identified by applying parent or guardian)
  • Sibling school location
  • Family’s school preferences listed on the application (preferences are considered, but not guaranteed)

Application Opens February 2021

Families can apply through any pre-K partner (Durham PreK, Durham’s Partnership for Children, Durham Head Start and Durham Public Schools). Each applicant child will be considered for all classrooms types  they are eligible for based on the requirements listed below.

Additional Program Specific Requirements
PreK Partner




Program Specific


Site Locations
Head Start Public Schools Private Sites
  Families at all            income levels are   eligible.


Families with incomes at 400% Federal Poverty Level or above will pay a monthly parent fee of 4% of monthly income.*

All families are eligible. Priority is given to families that meet priority criteria.**
  Families must make less than 75% of the state median  income. Some families with incomes over the eligibility                requirement may qualify if they meet other priority     criteria.**
  Families must make less than 130% of the Federal Poverty Level and submit their most recent tax return.* Some families with incomes over the eligibility                requirement may qualify if they meet other priority     criteria.**
  Families at all income levels are   eligible.

All families are eligible for The Whitted School.

For Title I seats, must apply by May 15, and show         academic need through a    completed developmental screening.

* Federal Poverty Level - “An economic measure used to decide whether the income level of an individual or family qualifies them for certain federal benefits and programs.“ Find more information here.

** Priority Criteria may include children with disabilities, academic need, chronic health conditions, or limited English proficiency, children in foster care, families receiving TANF or SSI, children experiencing homelessness, military families.


The Universal Pre-K Application for the 2021-22 school year will open in FEBRUARY 2021. For more information, visit the Enrollment page. To be notified when the application is available, fill out an interest form here.