Colorado Universal Preschool Program For Providers

About Universal Preschool and Funding

Beginning in the 23-24 school year, the Department of Early Childhood will fund at least ten hours of high-quality, voluntary preschool for every Colorado child in their year before entering kindergarten. Payments will be made from the state to providers on a per-child basis, based on a formula that will be developed in the coming months. All licensed school-based, community-based, and home-based preschool settings are eligible and encouraged to participate in the delivery of this groundbreaking program and to be a part of building a better future for children, families, and the State of Colorado. Unlicensed or license-exempt child care providers are not eligible to participate in Universal Preschool, but we encourage these providers to consider getting licensed, which would allow them to participate. Click here to learn how to get licensed

In addition to the 10 hours of care provided to every child in their year before kindergarten, the Universal Preschool Program will allocate funds to providers to provide additional hours for children who meet qualifying factors, such as being from a low-income family. The qualifying risk factors and funding formula will be developed by the Department of Early Childhood in the coming months. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when more information on the risk factors become available. Providers are also encouraged to allow parents to provide a co-pay for additional hours beyond the 10 funded by the state, if this is a suitable option for the provider. 

How Providers Participate in UPK

In recognition that local communities know how best to serve local families and providers, the model for the coordination of Universal Preschool is through Local Coordinating Organizations (LCOs). Click here to read the details about the role of and application process for LCOs. As of June 2022, the LCO application process is still open - CDEC plans to designate LCOs by July 15, 2022. Once LCOs are up and running, with support from the Department, they will be the primary point of contact for preschool providers coordinating their participation in Universal Preschool. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when LCOs are designated. 

How Families will Apply and Enroll in UPK

The application for Universal Preschool will go live in January 2023. The Department of Early Childhood will work with a vendor to build a user-friendly application portal for families to determine their child’s eligibility for Universal Preschool and eligibility for additional hours. The application is also anticipated to allow parents to rank their preferences of providers and match families with a provider with a slot available - at that point, the family would be referred to the provider for the actual enrollment. These are the minimum expectations for the application for the first year of UPK. After the UPK application launches, the Department will be working to bring additional state-funded early childhood services to the same application portal, working towards a universal application for all 0-5 services funded by the state. 

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