This criteria determines eligibility into the pre-kindergarten program.

All programs are designed to serve "at risk" students.

The following criteria determine eligibility into the pre-kindergarten program for the 2023-2024 school year. All programs are designed to serve “at risk” children. Eligibility requirement for ALL Pre-K students is they MUST BE 4 YEARS OLD ON OR BEFORE AUGUST 15, 2023. Pre-K classes located in HCDE schools, at least half of the students should be zoned for that school.


Title I Funded Pre-K Sites Child MUST be zoned for a Hamilton County Title I Elementary School

Students who are automatically eligible include:

  • Children who participated in Head Start or a Title I preschool program at any time in the past two years
  • Children who received services under Part C or Title I (migrant education) in the past two years
  • Homeless preschool-age children
  • Children who are in a local institution for neglected or delinquent children and youth or attend a community-day program (Ex. Bethel, Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home)
  • Other preference criteria include (determined by a rubric which includes points for each criteria):
  • Children who meet federal income guidelines for free or reduced meals


State and Lottery Funded Pre-K Sites

Children who meet the income guidelines and have had a military parent killed in action, declared missing in action or declared a prisoner of war have first priority.

The first at-risk factor for consideration must be qualification based on family income as determined by the TN Department of Education US Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines.

Children must be zoned for a Hamilton County Department of Education elementary school.

Other criteria to be considered after at-risk children are enrolled are children who are closest to qualifying for free or reduced meals. Children who are within the $5,000 range of qualifying for free or reduced meals or increments of $5,000 thereafter.

Other criteria include but are not limited to children who are English language learners or qualify for exceptional education services.

After all these criteria have been satisfied other children may be considered.

Head Start Sites

Children must be income eligible first and meet Head Start criteria.