Decades of research have shown that pre-kindergarten makes a difference in the school readiness of children. Not just in the short-term to get children ready to succeed in school, but in the long-term as children grow up, become employed, and contribute to the strength of the economy.

When preparing to enroll your child for pre-kindergarten you may be wondering what the difference is between MECK Pre-K, Bright Beginnings (part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) and NC Pre-K.

The newest of the three programs is MECK Pre-K, which is funded by Mecklenburg County and administered by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County. MECK Pre-K was established to complement Bright Beginnings and NC Pre-K, and to provide more spots for eligible families as we work toward universal pre-k in Mecklenburg County.

During COVID-19, there has been much discussion about the need for families to have a choice between in-person and virtual instruction. When we look at all three programs, there is a mix of both options available for families right now. Bright Beginnings and NC Pre-K are currently offering virtual instruction, while MECK Pre-K is offering in-person instruction.

What is the difference between MECK Pre-K, Bright Beginnings and NC Pre-K?

All three programs require that the child turns four on or before August 31 of that year.

 MECK Pre-K eligibility is based on a family income that is 400% of the federal poverty level based on household size, and they live in Mecklenburg County. MECK Pre-K classrooms are located in childcare centers across the county. You can learn more about this program and how to apply at meckprek.org/meck-pre-k-enrollment.

Bright Beginnings eligibility is based on academic need, assessed through a formal screening process. When operating in person, Bright Beginnings classrooms are located at CMS school sites. You can learn more about this program and how to apply at cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/ci/pre-kservices.

NC Pre-K eligibility is based on family size, gross income, and/or other qualifying indicators. When operating in person, NC Pre-K classrooms are located in are located in childcare centers across the county. You can learn more about this program and how to apply at cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/ci/pre-kservices.

How do I register my child for MECK Pre-K?

To apply for the 2020-21 school year, your child must have turned four on or before August 31, 2020 and live in Mecklenburg County. Families must show birth certificate, proof of residency in Mecklenburg County and household income. For more information, or to request an Application Packet, email info@MeckPreK.org or call (704) 943-9585.