CDEC Releases Video Explaining Universal Preschool Matching Process

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Monday, March 6, 2023
Hope Shuler |

Deferred Acceptance Algorithm assigns children to schools taking into account family choices and system priorities and criteria

DENVER — Families who applied in the first round of Universal Preschool Colorado (UPK) are currently being matched with providers through a mathematical algorithm known as the deferred acceptance algorithm. The Colorado Department of Early Childhood created a video in English and Spanish to explain the matching process.

Families who apply are able to rank their top five preschools and the child is assigned a random lottery number. In any given preschool, seat priority is given to currently enrolled students, students with siblings at the location, and children of employees. The algorithm goes through numerous iterations taking into account these priorities and parents’ preferred preschools until finding the best possible match for all kids. While not all Colorado families will be matched with their first choice, the system treats everyone fairly and will find the best possible match for all kids.

On February 27, the matching process began 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 the next steps for enrollment.

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. There are 1,647 providers to date that have chosen to participate in this program that will help save families money.

Families seeking to participate in UPK that have not applied yet can continue to sign up and make provider rankings for their child. Enrollment is on a rolling basis and families can log in to UPK.Colorado.Gov 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. 

Since launching the application for UPK Colorado this January, 31,803 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.

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.