Program Types & Eligibility

When you complete the Durham PreK Application, you are applying for a pre-K seat in the following types of pre-K classrooms:

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

What do they have in common?

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

Does Durham have a universal pre-K application?

  • 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
  • Child citizenship does not determine eligibility. All 4 year old children in Durham County are eligible for all programs, regardless of citizenship status.
    • Families can choose to leave the citizenship question blank, but it will limit program options for that child to Durham Public Schools, Durham PreK, and Head Start.

What is considered during child placement?

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

  • Designated address (home or work, indicated by applying parent or guardian). DPS can only consider a family's home address for placement.
  • Sibling school location
  • Family's school preferences. Families are able to select their top 3 choices within their application based on their program eligibility.
    • Preferences cannot be guaranteed.
    • Families can indicate a preference to be placed with DPS, but cannot select specific DPS sites.
    • Sites may have vacancies in their classrooms, but those vacancies are tied to the eligibility requirements below. Existing vacancies are only available to family applications who qualify for those vacancies' seat types. For questions about seat types and vacancies, please contact instead of contacting the site directly.

Each applicant child will be considered for all classroom types they are eligible for based on the requirements listed below.

Program Types and Eligibility

PreK Partner Program Income Eligibility Program Specific Eligibility Site Locations
Head Start Public Schools Community-based Licensed Programs
Families at all income levels are eligible. Families with incomes at 400% Federal Poverty Level or above will pay a monthly parent fee of 2% of monthly income.* All families are eligible. Priority is given to families that meet priority criteria.** YES YES YES
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.** YES YES YES
Families must make less than 130% of the Federal Poverty Level.* Some families with incomes over the eligibility requirement may qualify if they meet other priority criteria.** YES NO NO
Families at all income levels are eligible. All families are eligible for The Whitted School. For Title I seats, must apply by mid-May deadline (date varies by year), and show academic need through a completed developmental screening. NO YES NO

* 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.