Mecklenburg County Offers Free Pre-K through MECK Pre-K

Check out the MECK Pre-K Fact Sheet




CHARLOTTE, N.C., August 22, 2018 – Registration has opened for MECK Pre-K, the start of a growing movement to offer free universal Pre-K to four-year-olds in Mecklenburg County and managed through Smart Start.


“With their vision and resources, Mecklenburg County commissioners have taken the bold step to expand universal Pre-K for those children who need it most,” said Nancy Hughes, executive director of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County. “Now it’s up to us to take advantage of this opportunity, and to make sure families get their child signed up now. Universal Pre-K is a vital first step not just to a good education, but to a healthy and successful life.”


For the 2018-19 school year, Mecklenburg County is funding 33 new Pre-K classrooms to serve 600 more four-year-old children. Classes will be in 4-and-5 star high-quality child care centers throughout Mecklenburg. Each classroom will have a maximum of 18 children with a certified (or certifiable) licensed teacher and a teacher assistant. Some sites will provide transportation for a nominal fee. Children will be placed as close to home as possible.


Trinisha Dean, newly hired by Smart Start to direct MECK Pre-K, said, “Each 6½-hour school day will be filled with hands-on, project-based lessons and activities to foster children’s confidence, creativity, critical thinking skills, and to promote positive growth and development for all children.” As a result, children will be developmentally and academically prepared to start kindergarten ready, eager and excited to learn and grow.


“Research and parent’s personal experiences points to the power of Pre-K to shape a child’s life,” Dean said. “We are eager to open new classroom doors, take these little ones by the hand and begin their journey to success.”


Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, a private nonprofit partnership that funds local programs for children from birth to age five and their families, will administer MECK Pre-K. To sign up, visit Parents are also welcome to call (704) 943-9585 to see if your child qualifies. To apply for the 2018-19 school year, a child must be age four on or before August 31 and live in Mecklenburg County. Families must show a birth certificate, proof of residency in Mecklenburg, and household income at or below 220% of the federal poverty level (e.g. for a family of four, that’s $55,220). Ultimately, the goal is to open enrollment for all families of four-year-old children regardless of income level, however, the initial years phase-in lower income families first.


Smart Start of Mecklenburg County mobilizes resources, forges partnerships, and supports families to improve early childhood health, education and development and to ensure children are prepared for kindergarten. The organization is part of the Smart Start network of 75 nonprofit local partnerships that serve all 100 North Carolina counties. This network is led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) that ensures fiscal and programmatic accountability, and coordinates the statewide network to create better outcomes for children and families.


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Cassandra Harris

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