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 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 223 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) reporting, 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.
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 2020 FundingThe application period for fiscal year 2020 (school year 2019-20) voluntary prekindergarten funding will be conducted in January 2019 and will be open to all school districts and charter schools. Sites that received first-time funding in fiscal year (FY) 2018 will be funded through FY 2019, 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, 2019. All districts and charter schools, regardless of previous funding status, must apply to be considered for funding in the 2019-20 school year.
As your district or charter school considers applying for voluntary prekindergarten, watch the webinars to gain an understanding about the program. Part I discusses the program requirements. Part II discusses the funding overview and program design for funded programs.
Part I: Voluntary Prekindergarten Program Requirements
Part II: Voluntary Prekindergarten Funding Overview and Program Design
FY 2020 Voluntary Prekindergarten Application Q&A
This Q&A document answers frequently asked questions about the voluntary prekindergarten program and the application process. This document will be updated weekly during the application period.
FY 2020 Voluntary Prekindergarten Funding Overview and Application Process
These webinar slides provide an overview of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 voluntary prekindergarten funding and the application process.
FY 2020 Prekindergarten Site Worksheet Instructions
These slides describe how to complete the Prekindergarten Site Worksheet for the FY2020 voluntary prekindergarten application. Programs will download the Prekindergarten Site Worksheet from the online application.
Preschool Program Comparison Chart
The preschool program comparison chart demonstrates the differences and similarities between three early childhood education opportunities funded by the Minnesota Department of Education: school readiness, school readiness plus and voluntary pre-kindergarten.
FY 2018 voluntary pre-K and school readiness plus site rankings
This chart demonstrates the rankings of school district and charter school sites in the order they would be funding by voluntary pre-kindergarten and school readiness plus as funds are available in fiscal year 2018 (2018-2019 school year).
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program Standards and Head Start Federal Regulations Crosswalk
This crosswalk demonstrates the differences and similarities between voluntary pre-kindergarten standards and Head Start Federal regulations.