Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts

Quality pre-kindergarten can give your child a strong start in school and in life. Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts provides free half-day or full-day pre-kindergarten for at-risk children throughout Pennsylvania.

Who is eligible?

Each program offering PA Pre-K Counts classrooms will have their own guidelines, but PA Pre-K Counts is designed for children who

  • are between age 3 and younger than the entry age for kindergarten;
  • live in a family earning up to 300% of poverty such as a family of four earning $72,900; and
  • may also have language (English is not your first language), a disability or developmental delay,  or other issues that make them at risk for failing in school.

If your child falls into these categories, you may be eligible to apply.

Click here to learn more about federal poverty guidelines. To find out 300% of the federal poverty level, find the poverty level that corresponds with the number of persons in your household and multiply by three.

How do I apply?

There are PA Pre-K Counts classrooms in most of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. To find PA Pre-K Counts programs near you, visit and search for a program in your area.

Please contact the lead agency directly for enrollment information, such as locations of classrooms and how to apply. Many grantees are partnering with other programs to provide classrooms in nearby cities, so contact them directly for information on all of their locations.

Visit the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts page on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

  • Kristie says:

    Is it your adjusted gross income or adjusted taxable income?

  • Diane B says:

    what if our child meets the age requirement and has a disability (developmental delay) but we do not meet the income requirement

  • Anna says:

    I am a family child care provider. I am noticing a trend that seems to force family child care providers out of the opportunity to become an option for families. Pennsylvania currently doens’t allow family child care providers partner with Early Head Start, as many other states do. Pennsylvania also doesn’t allow family providers who have proven that they are more than fully capable to educate preschool children, have been denied this opportunity through Pre-K Counts. Does anyone know why we are not being considered for any of these programs? Not all families want larger group settings for their children.

  • Logan says:

    Is the PreK Counts program up and running in PA for the 2016-2017 school year? Our school website states that the program is not available due to the PA State Budget. Also, why is this restricted to lower income families? If there are spots left in a school, why can’t families be blended in that do not meet the poverty level. Our current preschool is not providing the learning experience that this program seems to promise and we are unable to participate in this since we have dual income and our income is too high. The program in our school district is held in the public school where as a home owner we pay school taxes. It is my understanding that the program also utilizes the public school bus system, too. Why is this program not open to everyone in the district or, at least, offered at a fee for children who do not meet the income criteria? Seems to me we are segregating our children right out of the gate rather than giving them the same opportunity and mixing them to create full – all encompassing – learning environments, friendships and appreciation of others.

    • Mary says:

      To find a PA Pre-K Counts program in your area, visit For details, like start dates, enrollment, etc. you’ll need to contact the individual program.

  • Rebecca Lombardo says:

    i was wondering if you exceed the income guideline, is there still an option to send your child to a pre k counts classroom,but have a tuition fee?

    • Mary says:

      Hi, Rebecca. If a family doesn’t qualify for PA Pre-K Counts, there are still options available for high quality early learning. Keystone STARS 3 & 4 early learning programs offer high quality early learning for children. You can find a program using the COMPASS search.

  • Mr. Michael says:

    what if we meet the age requirements, as well as the income requirements… but our child doesn’t have a disability or isn’t considered “at risk”?

    • karli says:

      The income requirements alone are a standard that reflects “at risk”. The child does not need to display special needs to be eligible.

  • Mahsa says:

    Hi , we have recently moved to the U.S. I have a four year old daughter who can not speak English fluently. I have concern for her because I think she will get in trouble when she wants go to kindergarten. Is she eligible to go to the pre k program for free? If she is where and how I can apply for her.

  • Kelly Chripczuk says:

    I have twins who will turn 5 on August 11. They are within the cut-off time frame, but not ready for kindergarten – would they be elligible for Pre-K counts program?

  • Angie D. says:

    Hello, we live in Limerick, Montgomery County in the Spring-Ford school district. Our daughter turned 5 on September 1 and the cut off date for age eligibility for kindergarten was August 31. We would like to have her attend this program if possible. How do we find out if this program is available in our school district? The link from your website is no longer available. Also, does 300% percent of poverty level means that we should multiply the poverty income in the federal guideline by 3 to get the income eligibility? For example, we have 6 people in our family; therefore, our income has to be $31,970×3 = $95,910 or less to be eligible for this program? Thanks so much.

  • Raissa Berger says:

    There are no prek counts programs in my school district but there are in neighboring school districts through outside providers. The providers all say they can’t accept me since I don’t live in their school district. This seems VERY unfair that my child doesn’t get to benefit from a program that he qualifies for just because our school district doesn’t offer it. Is there any kind of exemption that students can get if their school doesn’t provide the program to go somewhere else?

    • Marnie says:

      Many school districts will prioritize enrollment in PA Pre-K Counts based on several variables and district residence may be one of the criteria. However, school districts are only one of the entities that may offer PA Pre-K Counts in your community. There are child care programs, Head Start agencies and private academic nursery schools who may also provide this service. You can go to COMPASS and search for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts programs in your community.

  • Trisha says:

    In regards to the age, when a child turns 3, are they eligible to enroll any time of the year? Or do we have to wait for enrollment periods? If so ,when are these? Thanks!

  • Lea Born says:

    I am unclear about the guidelines for children to be selected into Pre K Counts. Our income is probably too high, but our 3 year old daughter has PKU and we want her in the program to help her with the dietary issue at school, and the horrible effect it could have on her if she’s not exposed to it early. Please let me know.

    • Mary P. Hall says:

      Hello, Lea.
      Thanks for your interest in PA Pre-K Counts. The best way to determine eligibility is to contact a PA Pre-K Counts site in your county. Go here and enter your county information, and PA Pre-K Counts in the search and find a site in your area. The staff there can help you determine if you qualify.

  • tonya rice says:

    My son will be turning 4 years old and would like to put him in pre developmental kindergarden i did have my oldest son in one which they non longer have here in southmoreland. The bus picked him up and was a full day. It really helped my son with kindergarden. I would lik dc to know if there is still a prgram close by which i can enroll my child soon before its to late. Thank you.

    • Mary P. Hall says:

      Click HERE find a PA Pre-K Counts program in your county, then contact the program for information on how to enroll your child. Or to find a different type of early learning program, you can search HERE by providing your location. Remember that if you’re looking for quality, you should look for the STARS (Keystone STARS, that is!). Find out more about Keystone STARS and how the more stars a quality early learning program has, the better it is for your child.

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