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What is a Pre-K Partnership?

In November 2021, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) approved $26 million to expand prekindergarten (pre-k) partnerships. A pre-k partnership is when a school partners with one or more quality child care programs to give quality care and education to 3- and 4-year-old children.

Child care programs must meet at least one of the five quality criteria in Texas Education Code §29.171 to be eligible for a formal pre-k partnership.

Formal Partnerships

In a formal pre-k partnership, children are part of both public-school pre-k and TWC's Child Care Services program. They stay at the child care center, even before and after pre-k instruction. These partnerships are useful for families with working parents and help children have consistent care and learning. The teacher leading the pre-k part of the class can work for the school or the child care program and needs to meet specific standards. 

Child care programs and school can keep pre-k partnerships active with money from different sources. TWC’s Child Care Services program may pay for the care some children receive before and after the pre-k class. Also, schools might divide state funds such as Average Daily Attendance and Early Education Allotment with child care programs. This helps cover the costs of teaching pre-k in the partnership classroom. 

For more information about possible funding, check the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website

Example of a Formal PreK-3 Partnership
Partnership example: Child dropped off at center at 6:30am and receives child care until 8am.  Child receives prek instruction at the center until 11am, then the child receives child care at the center until 6:30p

Informal Partnerships

In informal partnerships, a school and a child care program share resources and information. This includes things like learning opportunities for teachers, what children need to be ready for school, and ways to involve families. In informal partnerships, children are not signed up for both public school pre-k and the child care program. So, there is no money passed from the school to the child care program. Even so, informal partnerships can be a good start to making a formal pre-k partnership later.

Pre-K Eligibility

To be eligible for public school pre-k, a child needs to be 3 or 4 years old by September 1 of the current school year and meet at least one of these conditions:

  • Educationally Disadvantaged – Child is eligible for the free/reduced meal program or receives SNAP, Medicaid, or TANF.
  • Limited English Proficiency – Child is unable to speak and comprehend the English language.
  • Military - Child whose parent is currently in the armed forces, including state military forces or a reserve component. It also includes a child whose parent was hurt or died while serving on active duty in the armed forces.
  • Homeless – Child qualifies as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
  • Foster Care – Child is in or has ever been in foster care in Texas or another state.
  • Star of Texas Award – Child of a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.

For more information about pre-k eligibility requirements, please refer to Texas Education Code §29.153(b).

Benefits of Pre-K Partnerships

Pre-k partnerships help families, child care programs, and schools in many ways.

For families, pre-k partnerships can provide:

  • Access to high-quality pre-k to support children’s transition to kindergarten;
  • Consistency between the school day and before or after care;
  • Better hours for working families who need a full workday of care;
  • A curriculum that matches what the local school teaches to help children prepare for school.

For child care programs, pre-k partnerships can provide:

  • More 3- and 4-year-old children to help programs grow and become stronger financially while getting help and money from the school.
  • A chance to share and learn from teachers with different training and education.
  • A path to help children move to kindergarten.
  • Increased school-readiness, resources, and professional development opportunities.

For schools, pre-k partnerships can provide:

  • Quality care for longer hours than a typical school day.
  • The ability to share standards and expectations with future students.
  • Teachers who are more trained in emotional support and learning.
  • More pre-k setting options to meet the needs and preferences of families.
  • More 3- and 4-year-old children without needing to make more classrooms.
  • Increased resources and professional development opportunities.
  • Open lines of communication with early childhood education programs serving future students.
  • Earlier opportunities to engage families.

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TWC Pre-K Partnership Team

The Pre-K Partnership Team at TWC is committed to helping pre-k partnerships grow in Texas. This involves:

  • Reaching out to potential partners
  • Finding matches
  • Assisting partners during talks

TWC will give qualifying child care programs a one-time award of up to $25,000 for each new partnership classroom. This money helps cover the initial costs of a new pre-k partnership classroom.

To apply for the award, the child care program must:

  • Be Texas Rising Star 3- or 4-Star certified
  • Have a contract with a school for a formal partnership
  • Have a new partnership classroom

The child care program and school must be working with the TWC Pre-K Partnership Team during the partnership process. To find out more about pre-k partnerships and how TWC can help create a partnership that suits your program's needs, please email

Statewide Early Childhood Education Data