February 8, 2024

Pre-K Registration Now Open for Free, Public Programs in Forsyth County

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (February 8, 2024) – February 1 marked the opening of Forsyth County’s Pre-K registration window for free, public Pre-K programs. Many licensed, private/independent child care businesses and family child care providers also have opened their registration processes.

The Pre-K Priority, a collaboration of community organizations committed to early childhood education in Forsyth County, encourages families to learn about the local Pre-K options that best fit their needs. A great starting point is The Pre-K Priority website, prekpriority.org/register, where families use an interactive tool to identify local resources and begin the registration process.

Qualifying families can apply for free, public Pre-K classrooms offered through Head Start, NC Pre-K and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. In Forsyth County, families complete one common application for all three programs. The online application is available on the Smart Start of Forsyth County and the WS/FCS websites. Paper applications are available at the WS/FCS Special Services Center/Office of Preschool at 950 Mock Street, Smart Start of Forsyth County at 7820 North Point Boulevard, all Pre-K elementary school sites and Head Start. Pre-K teams with Smart Start, Head Start and WS/FCS work alongside families to complete the application.

“Starting early with the Pre-K application and registration process may give families considering programs like NC Pre-K and Head Start more choice,” said Tabitha McAllister, chief program officer for Smart Start of Forsyth County. “It’s also an opportunity to access developmental screenings for your child.”

Child Care Resource Center (CCRC) and its comprehensive database of more than 1,200 private/independent child care programs in Forsyth County and surrounding counties is another excellent community resource. According to Executive Director Katura Jackson, families should start connecting with CCRC now to begin identifying the Pre-K programs that best fit their needs and start the registration process.

“We encourage families to start the Pre-K registration process now as available slots fill up quickly,” said Jackson. “In Forsyth County our Pre-K landscape is shrinking. Federal child care subsidy grants expire in June of this year which is creating a very challenging environment for child care operators. We’re already seeing some operators reduce the number of available classrooms or close their doors entirely.”

To encourage families in Forsyth County with preschool-age children to learn more about their Pre-K options, The Pre-K Priority recently mailed more than 10,000 postcards highlighting Feb. 1 start of Pre-K registration.

“We want every family to have the information and resources they need to take advantage of the unique benefits of a quality Pre-K education,” said Leslie Mullinix, project director for The Pre-K Priority. “As four-year-olds, children learn more and faster than almost at any other time in life. A quality Pre-K experience helps them be better prepared – socially, physically and mentally – for kindergarten and beyond.”

In addition to supporting local Pre-K registration efforts, The Pre-K Priority and its community partners are working on a number of early childhood education initiatives. A foundational piece of The Pre-K Priority’s community impact is a two-year initiative supporting early childhood educators, young learners and families in

Forsyth County. The initiative, which launched in the fall of 2023 with more than $4 million in ARPA grant funds from the Forsyth County Commissioners and the City of Winston-Salem, involves 30 Pre-K classrooms across Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Head Start, NC Pre-K and independent/private Pre-K providers. In collaboration with Pre-K Priority community partners including Smart Start of Forsyth County, Child Care Resource Center, Family Services of Forsyth County, WS/FCS, Hispanic League and Forsyth Futures, the initiative is impacting more than 500 young learners, their families and 60 educators. More information at prekpriority.org.


The Pre-K Priority was formed in 2014 as a coalition of education, childcare and community leaders with the goal of providing every four-year-old in Forsyth County with the opportunity to attend a high-quality Pre-K program. Our studies and reports document that Pre-K providers in Forsyth County are prepared to increase the quantity and quality of their programs. Most importantly, surveys have found that 90 percent of parents with young children would enroll their children in affordable, accessible, high-quality Pre-K programs were they available.

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