CDEC Encourages Families Who Applied to Universal Preschool Colorado to Review New Providers by February 24 Deadline

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Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Hope Shuler |

More than 1,600 providers have chosen to participate in this landmark program that will save Colorado families $6,000 on average

DENVER — Free universal preschool is estimated to save families thousands of dollars every year and will put Colorado’s youngest learners on the path to success. Last week, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) announced that from February 17 to February 24, families who have already ranked their selected providers for Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado in the first round of applications can reopen their initial application and reevaluate their choices of providers to make sure they still have the best providers selected for their needs. The department encourages families to submit their choices by 5:00 PM MT on Friday, February 24.

Over 150 additional providers have signed up to participate in UPK Colorado since the January launch of the family application. To ensure that as many Colorado parents as possible are able to sign up for the landmark program, CDEC extended the timeline to allow ample time for families to re-enter the system and review and edit their applications. This adjusted timeline also allows new families to get into the system before the first round of matching. There are more than 1,600 providers that have chosen to participate in this program that will help save families money.

On February 27, the matching process will begin with the first batch of applications. On March 30, families who applied in the first round will receive an email from the state letting them know which provider they matched with and what the next steps for enrollment are.

Families seeking to participate in UPK that have not applied yet will be able to sign up and make provider rankings for their child. Enrollment is on a rolling basis and families can log in to Colorado Universal Preschool to find a provider in their area. There is no deadline to sign up.

The UPK Colorado application will continue to be open to new families to apply throughout the spring, summer and into fall. CDEC will announce a date for the second batch of applications to be matched after the first batch of applicants is matched. This will allow CDEC to make any needed improvements before then.

Since launching the application for UPK Colorado this January, over 30,000 families have signed up to participate in the state-funded high-quality, voluntary mixed delivery preschool program available to every child in the year before they are eligible to enter kindergarten.

Every child will receive up to 15 hours of UPK per week in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten. Pending availability and funding, children with one or more qualifying factors may receive up to an additional 15 hours of preschool. School districts may also have a limited number of 10-hour slots for three-year-olds with one or more qualifying factors.

Qualifying factors include household incomes under 270% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, having an Individualized Education Program (IEP), housing status, dual language learner, and foster/kinship care.

For families with three- or four-year-olds in need of special education preschool services, please register on Colorado Universal Preschool and select if your child has an IEP. Families with three-year-olds will then select the school district they live in and will be contacted by the school district directly to determine enrollment in a specific school. Every Colorado family with a four-year-old that wants to participate in UPK Colorado will be able to do so and CDEC anticipates a successful launch in the 2023-24 school year.

The Department of Early Childhood selected the vendor BridgeCare to administer the online application system. The BridgeCare platform offers an online, mobile-friendly application with family-friendly features like text and email status updates that can be translated into English, Spanish and Arabic.


The Colorado Department of Early Childhood ensures the delivery of a comprehensive, community-informed, data-driven, high-quality and equitable early childhood system that supports the care, education and well-being of all Colorado’s young children, their families and early childhood professionals in all settings.