What Should I Know Before Enrolling My Child in a Pre-K Program?

What Should I Know Before Enrolling My Child in a Pre-K Program?

Parents have a lot of questions about preparing their children for pre-K programs. They wonder when the best time is to enroll, whether their child qualifies, and how much it costs to apply. The answers to these questions differ among states and sometimes among counties and regions within states. Some states offer state-funded or locally-funded pre-K programs while others don’t. States also differ in pre-K enrollment age, with some including children three to five years old, while others are limited to children who are four years old.

Parents have a limited time to decide on a pre-K program and enroll a child. They can prepare in advance by knowing their options and gathering supporting documents to accompany their application. When parents have what is needed for pre-K enrollment, the process goes more smoothly!

In this post, we’ll focus our answers on the requirements for MECK Pre-K in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. We’ll answer commonly asked questions including “When should I enroll my child in preschool?” and “How do I determine if my child is eligible for pre-K in Mecklenburg County?” We will help parents understand pre-K and the enrollment process.

Pre-K Eligibility & Enrollment

MECK Pre-K is a high quality free program. Enrollment is open to children who meet the age and residency requirements. MECK Pre-K requires that children be four years old by August 31st of the school year for which they are applying. Parents with eligible children are encouraged to apply as soon as registration opens, as space in MECK Pre-K is limited. Even if their child won’t reach pre-K enrollment age until the following year, parents can sign up to be notified when registration opens for their child’s age group.

The enrollment process consists of submitting an application online and providing the required documents. Parents applying online can upload required documents with the application. Families who don’t have the ability or access to apply online can request assistance by calling 704-943-9585 or emailing info@MeckPreK.org

Documentation is used to verify the child’s identity, age, and county of residence. It also verifies the parent’s identity. The documentation required to verify the child’s name and age includes an original or photocopy of the child’s birth certificate, a passport, or a state-issued ID. Documents used to verify the parents’ identity include a state-issued driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or a passport. More documentation options can be found on the website

Additional required documents include two copies of current proof of Mecklenburg County residency and proof of all current household income. There is no income limit, but these documents help MECK Pre-K ensure that families with the greatest needs can access free pre-K. See our Pre-K Enrollment Page for a complete list of acceptable documents and access to our online Pre-K application.

Benefits of Pre-K

Enrolling in Pre-K is voluntary in the state of North Carolina. However, research has shown that pre-K makes a difference in the lives of children and their families. The foundation created in a high-quality pre-K program prepares children for the demands of life — not just in the short term as they succeed in school, but also in the long term as they grow up, become employed, and contribute to the strength of the community. 

It’s not a surprise that one of the most common questions parents ask is, “What is the cost of pre-K?” Private pre-K schools can cost thousands of dollars in annual tuition. Without access to publicly funded programs, the families of children who would benefit from a pre-K program may not be able to afford it. MECK Pre-K and other free programs are designed to give these children the advantages of a high-quality pre-K education at no cost.