1. Who is eligible for public school prekindergarten?
2. Why isn't my child eligible for prekindergarten?
3. My child won't be five-years-old until right after September 1, but is very smart and mature. Can he/she go to kindergarten instead of prekindergarten so they don't have to wait another year?
4. What is the class size and student to teacher ratio for prekindergarten?
5. Can I use my SNAP or TANF card to document eligibility?
6. What are the requirements for starting a prekindergarten program and/or child care facility that is not associated with a school district or open-enrollment charter school?
7. May school districts serve ineligible children in prekindergarten?
8. What is the income level for a household to qualify as educationally disadvantaged?
9. Are school districts required to serve three-year-old students who are eligible?
10. May districts keep “waiting lists” of eligible children who are not being served?
Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions on Early Childhood
Education: (Full Version, PDF, 318.79KB)
is eligible for public school prekindergarten?
To be eligible for enrollment in a prekindergarten class, a
child must be at least three years of age and:
unable to speak and comprehend the English language; or
educationally disadvantaged; or
homeless, as defined by 42 U.S.C. Section 1143a, regardless of the
residence of the child, of either parent of the child, or of the child's
guardian or other person having lawful control of the child; or
- is the
child of an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States,
including the state military forces or a reserve component of the armed
forces, who is ordered to active duty by proper authority; or
- is the
child of a member of the armed forces of the United States, including the
state military forces or a reserve component of the armed forces, who was
injured or killed while serving on active duty; or
- is or
ever has been in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and
Protective Services following an adversary hearing held as provided by
Section 262.201, Family Code.
Why isn't my child eligible for prekindergarten?
The Texas Legislature determines eligibility requirements
for free, public prekindergarten in Texas. When the Texas legislature
established the prekindergarten program the intent was, and still is, to
provide early learning experiences to students who are most at risk for school
failure. Therefore the eligibility is limited. The legislature believed that a high
quality prekindergarten program could mitigate the impact of the at-risk
characteristics, thereby assisting these students to become school ready when
they enter kindergarten.
Citation: TEC §29.153(b), SAAH, Section 7.2
child won't be five-years-old until right after September 1, but is very smart and
mature. Can he/she go to kindergarten instead of prekindergarten so they don't
have to wait another year?
TEA and Texas public schools are governed by the Texas
Education Code (TEC). A child must be at least five years of age on September 1
of the school year. A student younger than five years of age is entitled to the
benefits of the Foundation School Program (i.e. kindergarten) if: (1) the
student performs satisfactorily on the assessment instrument administered under
Section 39.023(a) to students in the third grade; and (2) the district has
adopted a policy for admitting students younger than five years of age.
If a student is eligible for prekindergarten by the
definition set forth in section 7.2, the student is eligible for PK funding even
if the district serves the student in a kindergarten classroom.
Citation: TEC §29.151, TEC §42.003(d)
What is the class size and student to teacher ratio for prekindergarten?
There is no rule or law regarding prekindergarten class size
or student to teacher ratio; however school districts are encouraged to
maintain student/teacher ratios in prekindergarten programs that, at a minimum,
do not exceed the 22:1 ratio required for kindergarten through fourth grade. If
a school district contracts with a private entity for the operation of the
district’s prekindergarten program, the program must, at a minimum, comply with
the applicable child care licensing standards adopted by Section 42.042, Human
Resources Code by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
I use my SNAP or TANF card to document eligibility?
Yes. All children in a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
(SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) household are
categorically eligible to receive NSLP assistance. When a household submits a
complete application that contains the name of the child, a current SNAP or
TANF group number and an adult signature, the determining official must approve the child for free
meals. No further application information is required. Please note that Lone Star Card account numbers are not
acceptable SNAP case numbers on the application. If this occurs, contact the
applicant to obtain the valid SNAP or TANF eligibility number.
Citation: ARM (Administrator's Reference Manual)
for Texas Child Nutrition Programs, Section 4.11-4.12
6. What are the requirements
for starting a prekindergarten program and/or child care facility that is not
associated with a school district or open-enrollment charter school?
starting a private school, please visit the Texas Private School Accreditation
Commission (TEPSAC) website. TEPSAC
provides a link with guidance for starting a private school in Texas.
that are not associated with a school district, open-enrollment charter school,
or a private school must be registered through the Texas Department of Family
and Protective Services (DFPS), Child Care Licensing division. Please see http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Care/,
for further information on the becoming a licensed child care provider.
Sec. 42.041, Human Resources Code
school districts serve ineligible children in prekindergarten?
Yes. A school district may offer, on a tuition basis or using
other funds, to half-day and full-day prekindergarten classes to children not
eligible for classes under TEC Section 29.153. Districts must ensure that
serving students who are not eligible for the program does not interfere with
serving four-year-old students who are eligible for the program.
As best practice, the TEA recommends that districts first
serve all students who meet the eligibility requirements before serving those
students paying tuition or other students that do not meet the eligibility
8. What is the income level for a household to
qualify as educationally disadvantaged?
The income level is based on the National School
Lunch Program (NSLP) income eligibility guidelines established annually by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Those guidelines may be found at http://www.squaremeals.org/Publications/IncomeEligibilityGuidelines.aspx#CACFP.
school districts required to serve three-year-old students who are eligible?
No. A district may offer prekindergarten classes if the
district identifies 15 or more eligible children who are at least three years
of age. A child who is three years old is eligible for prekindergarten only if
the district operates a three-year-old prekindergarten program.
10. May districts keep “waiting lists” of eligible
children who are not being served?
No, not for eligible four-year-olds. By law, a school district must
offer prekindergarten classes if it identifies 15 or more children who are
eligible and are four years of age by September 1 of the current school year.
If a district offers a program for eligible three-year-old students, a waiting
list or lottery for three-year-olds only may be established under district
policy. In this case, the district may not be serving ineligible four-year-old
students until all eligible four-year-olds have been served. See Guidelines
for Offering Tuition-Based Prekindergarten in Category IV.
- Eligibility and Attendance
- Full/Half Day Programs
- School Readiness Integration (SRI) Partnerships
- Prekindergarten Instruction
- Five-Year-Olds & Three-Year-Olds
- Waiting Lists and Waivers
- Additional FAQs on Early Childhood
Department of Federal and State Education Policy:
Howard Morrison, firstname.lastname@example.org