Free Universal Pre-K Enrollment Open for 2023-24 School Year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia has once again ranked among the top states in the country for providing pre-K education according to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) 2022 State of Preschool Yearbook. In the report released this week, West Virginia remains sixth in the country for access to pre-K among 4-year-olds and has again met 9 of the 10 NIEER quality benchmark standards. The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) reminds families of the importance of early childhood education and to enroll their 4-year-olds in Universal Pre-K which is available statewide.

Early childhood programs are an essential component of the education infrastructure as they provide a foundation for a child’s academic, social-emotional, and developmental success. NIEER’s report uses 10 quality benchmarks ranging from development standards and classroom size to teacher degree requirements and provisions for classroom assistants. Nationally, states continue to recover from pandemic setbacks that resulted in reduced enrollment. West Virginia’s 4-year-old enrollment dipped during the peak of the pandemic, however, those numbers are rebounding.

The WVDE Universal Pre-K system provides programs in all 55 counties, serving all 4-year-olds as well as some 3-year-olds at no cost to families.

“Research shows that high-quality early childhood programs have a positive impact on young children, both short and long-term,” said State Superintendent David L. Roach. “We continue to focus our efforts on increasing enrollment by encouraging families to sign their children up for these important early learning programs. It is a crucial step for a child’s development and academic growth.”

Families may learn more and find free pre-k programs throughout the state on the WVDE Universal Pre-K website. Enrollment is currently open for next year.

For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) conducts academic research to inform policy supporting high-quality, early education for all young children. Such education promotes the physical, cognitive and social development needed for children to succeed in school and later life. NIEER provides independent, research-based analysis and technical assistance to policymakers, journalists, researchers, and educators.

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