How to Apply for Preschool

children dancing

DMPS provides various preschool options to meet family needs.

Welcome to Preschool, an exciting time for children as they begin to explore learning in a classroom setting.

Des Moines Public Schools provides a high quality preschool education for children throughout our community.

Certified teachers meeting the highest standards staff our preschools.

An early childhood education at DMPS provides a great start to learning, promoting the academic and social growth of young children.

Read about, and choose from one of the many options DMPS offers for early childhood education below.

Universal Preschool

Universal Preschool is for children who are 4 years-old by September 15, the year they will begin preschool. (Children who are 5 years old by September 15th are not eligible.)

To apply for the current 2019-2020 school year, please contact the Welcome Center at or call 242-7588.

The online application for the 2020-2021 school year will be available at starting March 11, 2020.

To apply for Universal Preschool at  Cowles Montessori School, please contact the Open Enrollment office at 242-7353.

For a list of all Universal Preschool classroom locations click here.  For a list of class times by location, click here.

DMPS Universal Preschool classes are held five days per week: Monday- Friday.

There are two options for length of day:

  • Half-day preschool (no cost)
  • Full-day preschool (parent pay or 1 unit childcare assistance)

Some scholarships are available for the full-day Universal Preschool classrooms at McKee, Mitchell and Woodlawn.

Head Start Preschool

Head Start is an income-based preschool program for 3 and 4 year-olds. Children must be 3 or 4 years old by September 15, the year they would begin preschool. (Children who are 5 years old by September 15th are not eligible.)

Classes are held five days per week: Monday-Friday.

Half-day options are available for 3 and 4 year-olds, full-day options are available for children who are 4 years old by September 15.

All Head Start options are free of charge.

An appointment is required for Head Start applications.  We are currently accepting applications for the 2019-2020 school year. We will begin taking applications for the 2020-2021 school year on February 3, 2020. Please call 242-7588 to make an appointment. Applicants will need to bring proof of birth (child’s birth certificate) and proof of income (taxes from 2018 or current FIP or SSI) to their appointment.

Shared Visions Preschool

Shared Visions is an income-based program for 4 year-old children who live in the attendance area of Capitol View, McKinley, or Moulton schools. Call 242-7588 for information about how to apply.

For more information about applying for preschool, call the Preschool Enrollment Office at 242-7588.

Tenemos una línea en español, por favor llame al 242-7975 para más información acerca de preescolar.