Prekindergarten Expansion and Improvements

Increasing access for 3- and 4-year-old students

Under the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (HB-1300), beginning in FY 2023, MSDE is charged with establishing and implementing high-quality prekindergarten programming by expanding voluntary prekindergarten for all three- and four-year-old children from families earning incomes at or below 300% Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

Development of a sliding scale for family costs relative to household income

While families with a household income over 600% FPL may be responsible for the full cost of prekindergarten, the Blueprint requires the state to define a sliding scale for a family share of costs for families with a household income between 300% and 600% FPL.

Currently, there is no fee to families, regardless of income, for children attending PreK in public provider settings and in the Prekindergarten Expansion Grant program. Under the Blueprint, income eligibility is based on a system of tiers: Tier I: children from families with an annual income less than or equal to 300% FPL are eligible for publicly funded, full-day PreK at no charge to the family. Tier II: children from families with an annual income more than 300% FPL but not more than 600% FPL are eligible for a subsidized, full-day PreK. Tier III: children from families with an annual income above 600% FPL are eligible to attend full-day PreK at the full cost of the program. The sliding scale fee methodology required by law allows MSDE to differentiate the cost of childcare for families within Tier II and to provide for a more nuanced, equitable approach to fee subsidizations. There are, however, multiple approaches to a sliding scale that have different impacts on eligible families. MSDE is working to establish an approach methodology rooted in best practices while ensuring families are adequately supported.

Public/Private Mixed Delivery

The Blueprint sets the phased in goal of 50% of PreK slots should be in a private provider setting by school year 2026-2027. Currently, families have a few limited options when it comes to understanding their options for accessing prekindergarten programs. A list of eligible Prekindergarten Expansion Grant providers is updated on the MSDE website and MSDE also provides a flyer listing public and private providers to each of the 113 local social service agencies. Families may also use one of two websites to find PreK programs. The LOCATE: Child Care website ( is a free and confidential referral service to support families in finding the best early learning program for their child. Additionally, Maryland EXCELS is a quality rating and improvement system for childcare, PreK and other early education programs that meet nationally recognized quality standards. The website ( helps families find high quality childcare and early learning programs that fit theirs and their children’s needs. Both services use geo-mapping and mobile apps.

With the expansion of PreK under the Blueprint, MSDE expects that local school systems (with guidance and support from MSDE) will ensure that families are aware of all PreK options available to them, the potential differences between those options, and the process for enrolling in the option chosen by the family. MSDE will also work with aligned organizations in each district to ensure there is a “neutral party” (neither a private childcare provider nor the public local school system provider) that is also available to support families with selection of and enrollment in the chosen PreK option. Families should be given many important pieces of information, including what transportation is or is not provided by the local school system and an explanation that their ability to choose to enroll a child in a program outside the family’s attendance area is available only for the prekindergarten year.

Goal of 50% of Slots in Private Provider Settings by the 2026-2027 School Year

MSDE shall issue a waiver on the private provider percentage requirements if:

  • All families who desire to enroll eligible children with eligible providers are able to do so, or
  • There are too few eligible private providers to meet the minimum requirements
School Year Required Prekindergarten Slots Provided by Eligible Private Providers
2022-2023 30%
2023-2024 35%
2024-2025 40%
2025-2026 45%
2026-2027 50%
After 2026-2027 minimum 50%