Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten

Voluntary prekindergarten prepares children for success as they enter kindergarten the following year. The funding allows school districts, and charter schools with Minnesota Department of Education-recognized early learning programs, to incorporate a voluntary prekindergarten program into their E-12 system.

Voluntary prekindergarten currently serves 7,160 children throughout the state in 128 school districts and charters at 215 sites. Programs meet high-quality early learning program standards, such as providing instruction through play-based learning, being taught by knowledgeable teachers, coordinating appropriate transition to kindergarten, and involving parents and families in program planning. Districts and charter schools are also encouraged to work in mixed delivery partnerships with Head Start and community child care programs.

As part of Minnesota’s education system, voluntary prekindergarten is funded as a new grade level, and is required to meet E-12 program expectations and follow the same general set of rules as other grade levels. The requirements include Minnesota Automated Reporting Student System (MARSS) reporting, Staff Automated Reporting (STAR), monitoring and compliance, professional development, teacher evaluation, Quality Compensation (Q Comp), and inclusion of children with disabilities.

If your district is funded with voluntary prekindergarten or if you are looking for more information, please refer to the Resources for Funded Programs webpage.

Student Eligibility

A child who is 4 years old as of September 1 in the calendar year in which the school year begins is eligible to participate in voluntary prekindergarten program free of charge. Each eligible child must complete a health and developmental screening within 90 days of program enrollment and provide documentation of required immunizations.

Application Process for Fiscal Year 2021 Funding

The application period for fiscal year 2021 (school year 2020-21) voluntary prekindergarten funding will be conducted in January 2020 and will be open to all school districts and charter schools. Sites that received first-time funding in fiscal year FY 2018, FY 2019 and FY 2020  will be funded through FY 2021, but pending legislative changes, not beyond. Sites funded first in FY 2017 will receive continued funding for the number of students approved in FY 2017. Minnesota law requires that all applications are received at the Minnesota Department of Education by January 30, 2020. All districts and charter schools, regardless of previous funding status, must apply to be considered for funding in the 2020-21 school year.


As your district or charter school considers applying for voluntary prekindergarten, watch the webinars on the resources for funded programs webpage to gain an understanding about the program.

  • FY20 VPK and SRP Rankings - 11/7/19
    This chart demonstrates the FY20 VPK and SRP application rankings and allocations for school district and charter school sites.

Application Resources

Program Resources