Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten

Voluntary prekindergarten was established by Governor Dayton and the 2016 Minnesota Legislature for the purpose of preparing children for success as they enter kindergarten the following year. The funding allows districts, charter schools with recognized early learning programs, or a combination thereof, to incorporate a voluntary pre-K program into their E-12 system.

As part of Minnesota’s education system, voluntary pre-K is required to meet E-12 program expectations and follow the same general set of rules regarding such items as MARSS reporting, STAR reporting, expulsion, monitoring and compliance, professional development, teacher evaluation, Q Comp, and inclusion of children with disabilities. Additionally, voluntary pre-K comes with its own set of high-quality program standards, such as providing instruction through play-based learning, coordinating appropriate transition to kindergarten, involving parents and families in program planning, and more.

Student Eligibility

A child who is four 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 2018-19 program funding

The application period for 2018-19 voluntary prekindergarten and school readiness plus was conducted in January and open to all district and charter schools. For FY 2019, first-time funding applicants were eligible for funding in FY 2019 only. Sites that received first-time funding in FY 2018, will be funded through FY 2019. Sites funded first in FY2017 will receive continued funding. As stated in statute (124D.151), all applications were due on January 30, 2018 to be considered for funding in the 2018-2019 school year.


For more information about the Kindergarten Entry Profile (KEP) assessment tools approved for voluntary prekindergarten use,  view the KEP Assessment Tip Sheet.