PreK4Ward is a grant-funded initiative designed to promote kindergarten readiness and is offered as a collaboration between United Way of South Mississippi and local school districts. PreK4Ward is a highly structured program providing a rigorous curriculum to prepare your child for kindergarten.

Due to the high level of interest in this program and the limited number of spaces, we strongly encourage all families to have a backup plan for their child’s preschool year. Completion of Pre-Registration does not guarantee acceptance to the program.

***Please make sure to review all the PreK4Ward information provided on this website, particularly the Frequently Asked Questions section, prior to submitting your child’s application***

  • Students must be 4 years old on or before September 1, of the upcoming school year to attend PreK4Ward. There are no exceptions to this policy.
  • PreK4Ward is a tuition-free program; however, a $250 registration fee is required at final registration. This fee is non-refundable should your child leave the program for any reason.
  • Students attending PreK4Ward must live in either the Harrison County School District or the Gulfport School District. Families living within the city school districts of Biloxi, Long Beach and Pass Christian or surrounding counties are not eligible for this program. The only exceptions are children of active-duty military and out of district children may attend PreK4Ward in the school district where a parent is employed.
  • If you are unsure of your geographic eligibility this map may be helpful. Please click on the below link and enter your home address.

PreK4Ward 2024 Registration Timeline:

February 28, 2024 – Online Preregistration opens at 10:00 am on UWSM’S website.

April 26, 2024 – Online Preregistration closes at 5:00 pm

May 2024 – UWSM will begin notifying families of acceptance via email. This is a lengthily process which will take several weeks to complete. It is the parent’s responsibility to monitor the email address provided for this notice.

June 2024 – Parent Orientation/Final Registration Gulfport School District class to be held at the Knight Non-Profit Center – Dates and times will be provided with the acceptance notification.

July 2024 – Parent Orientation/Final Registration for Harrison County School District classes to be held at the Knight Non-Profit Center- – Dates and times will be provided with acceptance notification.

First Day of School Gulfport class – Will be provided once the school calendar becomes available.

First Day of School Harrison County classes – Will be provided once the school calendar becomes available.

Families should be prepared to provide all the following items at final registration:

  • A Mississippi Certificate of Immunization Compliance Form (Form 121)
  • Certified copy of the student’s Birth Certificate 
  • Copy of the student’s Social Security card
  • Two of the items numbered 1 through 10 below are to be provided as verification of residency. Documents showing a post office box as parent address cannot be accepted.
    1. Filed Homestead Exemption Application
    2. Mortgage documents or property deed
    3. Apartment or home lease
    4. Current Utility bills
    5. Driver’s license
    6. Voter registration card
    7. Automobile registration
    8. Guardianship: Non-parental legal guardians must provide a copy of the most recent court order, signed by a judge, appointing them as legal guardians.
    9. Payment of $250.00 registration fee is due at final registration. This fee is non-refundable.
    10. If your child has an existing IEP, that document must be provided to UWSM for review prior to enrollment.

* UWSM must receive all the above listed items for your child to begin school. No exceptions can be made as these are state-mandated requirements. Failure to provide the required documentation prior to the first day of school could result in loss of seat in the class. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We know that you as a parent will have a lot of questions. After all this is about your child’s education.  Please take a moment to read through these FAQ’s about PreK4Ward.

What is the curriculum for PreK4ward?

PreK4Ward utilizes the “Mississippi Department of Education Early Learning Standards for Classrooms serving 4-year old’s” to ensure that students leave academically and socially prepared to enter kindergarten.

How many teachers and students are there in a classroom?

Each classroom will have up to 20 students, a Lead Teacher and Teaching Assistant. All of our teachers have significant experience in Elementary and/or Early Childhood education.

Where are the PreK4Ward Classroom locations?

In prior school years the below listed schools have hosted PreK4Ward classes. Classes are only open to students residing in the Harrison County School District and the Gulfport School District.  Placement is based on the location of the applicant’s residence.

*** Please note that while these locations have hosted classrooms in prior years, there is no guarantee of the same locations year to year.  That determination will be in the Spring of 2024.

Harrison County School District: Crossroads Elementary, Bel-Aire Elementary, Harrison Central Elementary, D’Iberville Elementary, Saucier Elementary, North WoolMarket Elementary and Middle, Lizana Elementary, River Oaks Elementary

Gulfport School District: Bayou View Elementary School

I work until 5 pm; will After School Care be available for my child?

There is no After School Care provided as part of PreK4Ward or by United Way of South MS.   Please note that the AphaBest aftercare service available to elementary students in the Harrison Count School District is not an option for the Pre-K students due to dismissal times.

What are the student arrival and departure times for PreK4Ward?

This answer will vary by location; however, most locations begin class at 8:00 a.m. with drop off from 7:45- 8:00.  Dismissal is from approximately 1:45- 2:00 p.m. with pick up no later than 2:10. Times are structured for pre-K to arrive after K-6 and be dismissed prior to K-6.   Drop off and pick up is required, Pre-K students are not permitted to ride district school buses.

Is PreK4Ward equipped to handle children with special needs?

PreK4Ward has a long track record of success with students with varying degrees of special needs, however PreK4Ward is not staffed to handle students who are not appropriate for a mainstream classroom.  If a student displays violent behavior, is unable to participate in classroom activities or causes continual and frequent disruptions in the class, they will be dismissed from the program. If a student has an existing IEP, that document must be reviewed by UWSM staff prior to enrollment in the program.

Does my child have to be toilet trained?

Children must be completely toilet trained prior to attending PreK4Ward. Repeated accidents will result in dismissal from the program.

Definition of Toilet Trained:

  • A child who does not wear “pull-ups” or diapers at any time of day.
  • A child who is able to take care of all bathroom needs on his/her own, including wiping.
  • A child who can verbalize when toileting is necessary.
  • A child who can use the school facilities without additional training potties or potty seats.
Can you guarantee my child will be placed in a class at the school where he or she will attend kindergarten?

While that is always our goal, not all elementary schools in the district will have a PreK4Ward classroom.  If your designated school doesn’t have a pre-K class or it is full, your child will be placed in the nearest available class.

What if my child doesn’t get a seat in a classroom?

UWSM will maintain a waiting list of the remaining applicants once all the seats are filled. If a seat in a class in your area becomes available, you will be notified as soon as possible. Some turnover is expected as plans and situations do change, but please have a backup plan for your child.

What type of book bag will my child need, and will I need to purchase school supplies?

For pre-K classes in the HCSD, clear or mesh book bag will be required. United Way of South MS provides the classroom supplies.

Does PreK4Ward follow the school district calendar?

The school district calendar is our guide. PreK4Ward will end several weeks prior to the end of the regular school year.  Pre-K may have other additional holidays throughout the year. You will be provided a list of the pre-K calendar at the beginning of the school year.

How would I find out more information about PreK4Ward?

If you have specific questions not addressed in the application and FAQ section, please email  

Please do not call the schools or district office as they will not be able to answer questions specific to PreK4Ward. Families may reach out to United Way of South Mississippi via telephone or email, however email will be the most efficient means to receive information.

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