Nearly 25,000 Families Matched with a Provider in First Round of Universal Preschool Colorado, Saving Nearly $150 Million

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Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Hope Shuler |
Conor Cahill | | Governor’s Office 

Landmark program will save Colorado families $6,000 on average

DENVER — This afternoon, families who applied in the first round of Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado will receive an email from the state letting them know which provider they matched with and the next steps for enrollment. In total, 24,743 families who applied in the first application round (91.5 percent) were matched with one of the five providers they selected in their application, with 22,087 families of 4-year-olds being matched with their top choice.

Families that participate in Universal Preschool Colorado will save $6,000 per year on average. This equates to nearly $150 million in savings that families around Colorado will be able to put towards everyday use. 

“My kids went to preschool and today I’m so excited that many more Colorado families will be able to prepare their child for success with a high quality preschool experience. I am so excited that today tens of thousands of families and students were able to match with the high quality universal preschool provider of their choice. Universal preschool will help save parents and families on average $6,000 per year and will bring major learning benefits for Colorado’s students. This is an exciting moment in Colorado and education,” said Governor Jared Polis.

The Polis-Primavera Administration has taken bold steps since Day One to make high-quality, affordable early childhood education a reality for Colorado families, and the state’s landmark universal preschool program will support early childhood education. The administration has worked closely with Colorado state lawmakers to make universal preschool a reality for kids, parents and families. 

“We are thrilled to see that an overwhelming majority of families who applied in the first round have been matched to a provider of their choice,” said Dr. Lisa Roy, CDEC Executive Director. “We are excited that tens of thousands of Colorado families will be able to access high quality education and save thousands of dollars annually by participating in UPK Colorado, and we look forward to continuing to serve Colorado children.”

Families have until May 10 to log back into UPK.Colorado.Gov and accept or decline their match. Families that accept their match will need to complete the registration process with their Universal Preschool provider. Families are encouraged to connect with their matched provider to learn more about their program philosophy, daily schedule, registration procedures, policies, and parent tuition responsibility.

Families that decline their match can submit new program choices and go through the next round of matching. If a family declines a match, the seat will be released and may not be available in the future. Seats for families that do not accept or decline their match by the May 10 deadline will also be released.

Of the families that applied, roughly 2,300 did not match with a provider. There are numerous reasons a match may not have happened, such as only ranking one provider instead of five. Additional providers have joined Universal Preschool Colorado and certain participating providers have added additional seats since the first round process. Families who didn’t match in the first round can go back into their applications to submit new provider choices for the next round of matching. Coloradans can also work directly with their Local Coordinating Organization, who can help them find a program where there are current openings available.

Families were matched with providers through a mathematical algorithm known as the deferred acceptance algorithm (DAA). CDEC created a video in English and Spanish to explain the matching process. ​CDEC also worked with the Colorado Department of Education and statewide special education directors to ensure that placements for students with Individualized Education Program (IEPs) were made at locations where the students could receive their special education services.

Families seeking to participate in Universal Preschool Colorado that have not yet applied 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.

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 1,861 providers to date that have chosen to participate in this program that will help save families money.

Since launching the application for Universal Preschool Colorado this January, more than 32,000 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. This includes more than 5,000 applications since the first round of applications closed. The second batch of applications will be matched in May.

The mobile-friendly online application includes family-friendly features like text and email status updates available in 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.