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Line Image NC Pre-K North Carolina Prekindergarten Program Line Image What is NC Pre-K?

The NC Pre-K Program is designed to provide high-quality educational experiences to enhance school readiness for eligible four-year-old children. The NC Pre-K Program Requirements are built on the National Education Goals Panel’s premise that to be successful academically in school, children need to be prepared in all five of the developmental domains that are critical to children’s overall well-being and success in reading and math as they enter school:

  • Approaches to play and learning
  • Emotional and social development
  • Health and Physical Development
  • Language development and communication
  • Cognitive development

The NC Pre-K Program Requirements are designed to ensure that a high-quality pre-kindergarten classroom experience is provided for eligible four-year-old children in each local NC Pre-K Program and that, to the extent possible, uniformity exists across the state.  Programs are also required to meet the NC Child Care Rules.  North Carolina is one of four states with a Pre-K program that meets all 10 National Institute of Early Education Research Benchmarks (NIEER).  Benchmarks include comprehensive Early Learning Standards; staff meet education/licensure requirements, professional development; 1:9 staff/child ratio; developmental screens and referral; evidence-based curriculum and formative assessments; monitoring and nutritional requirements. 

Who do I contact for information about the NC Pre-K Program?

The NC Pre-K Program is administered by the NC Department of Health and Human Services under the Division of Child Development and Early Education, Early Education Unit.

The NC Pre-K Program is designed to provide high-quality educational experiences to enhance school readiness for eligible four-year-old children.  NC Pre-K programs must meet the NC Child Care Rules, including specific rules for administrators and teachers, the NC Pre-K Program Requirements and other state-level policy. The NC Pre-K Program is administered at the county or regional level by Local Education Agencies, Smart Start Agencies, or Community Action Agencies and operated in 4- and 5-star-rated classrooms in public schools, child care centers and Head Start programs.  Lead Teachers in these classrooms must hold or be working toward a North Carolina Birth-through-Kindergarten or Preschool Add-on Standard Professional II license.

How do I know if my child is eligible to participate in NC Pre-K?

The child must be four-years old on or before August 31st of the program year.  A child that meets the age requirement is eligible for NC Pre-K if the child is from a family whose gross income is at or below 75% of the State Median Income (SMI).  Children of certain military families are also eligible without regard to income.  In addition, up to 20% of age eligible children enrolled may have family incomes in excess of 75% SMI if they have documented risk factors in specific categories including developmental disability, Limited English Proficiency, educational need, or chronic health condition.

Although a child may meet one or more eligibility factors, placement is not guaranteed in an NC Pre-K classroom. Waiting lists exist in counties when funding is not sufficient to serve all eligible children.  Local NC Pre-K contract administrators can provide specific information about the enrollment process, available programs that meet NC Pre-K Program Requirements, and other specific information related to participation in NC Pre-K in your county, as well as other options for early childhood education services (e.g., Child Care Subsidy, Child Care Resource and Referral, Head Start, Preschool Exceptional Children, Smart Start, Title I Preschool).
This page has the most current information and updates about the NC Pre-K Program, local contact information, and supporting structures, including the Early Educator Support, Licensure and Professional Development (EESLPD) Office. The EESLPD Office is the statewide education and licensure office serving NC Pre-K teachers employed in nonpublic schools.  
Where can I find results of the Statewide Evaluation of the NC PreKindergarten?

The purpose of the 2012‐2013 NC Pre‐Kindergarten (NC Pre‐K) Evaluation study was to examine the quality of the program and the outcomes for children, along with comparisons to previous years. Since the inception of the statewide Pre‐K program in North Carolina in 2001–2002, the evaluation has been conducted by the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina‐Chapel Hill. See Table 1 for a list of previous reports for further information about prior years, including studies of classroom quality and longitudinal and comparison studies of children’s outcomes.

NC Pre-K Contact Information

NC Pre-Kindergarten (NC Pre-K) Program Requirements


NC Pre-K Fiscal and Contracts Manual 

NC Pre-KAPP System

NC Pre-KPlan System

NC Pre-KKids System

NC Pre-K Monitoring Tools

NC Pre-K Forms

NC Pre-K Standardized Site Selection Process & Materials
NC Pre-K Budget Templates
NC Pre-K Budget Revisions
NC Pre-K Subcontract Templates
Annual Evaluation Reports
Legislative Updates and Information
Early Educator Support, Licensure and Professional Development (EESLPD) Office

Links to Related Helpful Resources

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