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Applying to Pre-K Counts, Head Start & Bright Futures

Applying to Pre-K Counts

About Pre-K Counts, Bright Futures and Head Start

Pre-K CountsBright Futures, and Head Start are free preschool programs in the city of Philadelphia open to eligible families (see below for eligibility requirements). The programs take place in various School District of Philadelphia schools and childcare centers across the city. To find a program near you, check out our Find a School tool to search for Preschool and Daycare options.


The programs follow the School District of Philadelphia’s 2021-22 School Year Calendar, running from September 2021 to June 2022. The standard hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 AM to 3:15 PM and Friday from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM, although those hours may vary by location. Breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack are provided to children every day at no cost to families. Transportation, before-care, and after-care are not provided.


Enrollment continues year round. To apply and for more information, click here for the application.



Eligibility Requirements

According to the School District of Philadelphia’s Preschool Application, the child and family must meet the following qualifications:

  1. Child must be at least 3 years old on or before September 1, 2021 and not be age-eligible for Kindergarten (5 years old on or after September 1, 2021).
  2. Child and family must live in Philadelphia.
  3. Family must meet current income guidelines:
    Sponsor’s Household Size 2020 Poverty Guideline for 48 Contiguous States and D.C. 300% of 2020 Poverty Guideline
    Maximum Income for Head Start Eligibility
    Maximum Income for Pre-K Counts and Bright Futures Eligibility
    2 $17,240 $51,720
    3 $21,720 $65,160
    4 $26,200 $78,600
    5 $30,680 $92,040
    6 $35,160 $105,480
    7 $39,640 $118,920
    8 $44,120 $132,360
    9+ Add $4,480 for each additional person
    Add $13,440 for each additional person


    How to Apply

    Child’s complete Preschool Application (forms and required supporting documents) must be submitted to and received by the appropriate preschool program.

    School-Based Preschool Program

    To apply for a school-based preschool program (listed on page 3 of the application), mail or hand-deliver the application and supporting documents to:

    The School District of Philadelphia

    440 N. Broad Street

    Suite 170 – Preschool Program

    Philadelphia, PA 19130-4015

    Community Partner Location

    To apply for a community partner location (listed on pages 4-6 of the application), take the application and supporting documents directly to that location. Applications must be received in person as partner agencies manage their own enrollment and application process.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    If preschool is not legally required, why should my child enroll in a preschool program?

    According to the California Department of Education, “[your child’s] first five years are especially crucial for physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development” and will help determine what kind of adult they will be. For more information on children’s developmental stages, see our Your Child’s Development.

    Pre-School provides a space for your child to develop and get ready for Kindergarten and beyond by exposing them to numbers, letters, simple directions, and other interactive activities. For a list of things to look for when visiting a center to make sure the program can serve your child, click here.


    When do I need to register my child for preschool?

    To be considered for a spot in a school-based preschool program, families must hand-deliver their completed application and accompanying documents to the following address by February 28, 2021:

    The School District of Philadelphia

    440 N. Broad Street

    Suite 170 – Preschool Program

    Philadelphia, PA 19130-4015

    For community partner locations, families must deliver the completed application and accompanying documents in-person to that agency by February 28, 2021.


    What documentation do I need to apply for Head Start, Bright Futures, and/or Pre-K Counts?

    According to the School District of Philadelphia’s Preschool Application, parents applying to a Head Start, Bright Futures, and/or Pre-K Counts program must submit the following documents:

    1. The completed application here. All forms are to be filled out by the parent/guardian of the child with the exception of two forms, which are to be filled out by the child’s doctor and dentist.
    2. A copy of the following 5 documents:
      1. Proof of your child’s date of birth (birth certificate, court document, passport)
      2. Your child’s health insurance card
      3. Current proof of Philadelphia address in the primary parent’s or guardian’s name (utility bill, mortgage, deed, rental/lease agreement, property tax bull, notarized statement of current address)
      4. Current state or federal photo ID of the primary parent/guardian
      5. 8 current and consecutive weeks of gross income received by the primary parent, secondary parent and all children. Income to submit includes, but is not limited to, gross earnings from the following income sources: employment, self-employment, Social Security, SSI, unemployment compensation, workmen’s compensation, child support, alimony/spousal support, TANF Cash Assist from a friend or family member, retirement/pension, commission, tips, strike benefits, veteran’s benefits, scholarship/grant/stipend, military allotment, rental properties and all other sources of income
    3. Make a copy of and submit the following supporting documents (required, if the situation applies to you, your child and/or your family):
      1. Verification of SNAP Food Stamps and/or Medical Assistance benefits – submit your family’s current and complete COMPASS Report from the welfare office.
      2. Current custody arrangement..
      3. Documentation of child’s foster care or kinship care placement.
      4. Documentation of guardianship.
      5. Child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Evaluation Report (ER), Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) from an Early Intervention provider (Child Link, ELWYN, ELWYN Seeds).
      6. Early Head Start letter.

    If you see information that’s missing or incorrect, let us know by clicking here.

    More information

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