Updates on Colorado’s Universal Preschool Program: Deadline to Sign Up for First Round Extended to February 24 After 150 New Providers Sign Up to Participate in UPK

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Hope Shuler | hope.shuler@state.co.us

DENVER — Since launching the application for Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado this January, nearly 28,000 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.

Over 150 new providers have signed up to participate in UPK since the January family launch. To ensure that as many Colorado parents as possible are able to sign up for the program and recognizing that this is a new system, CDEC is extending its timeline to allow ample time for families to re-enter the system and review and edit their applications. This adjusted timeline will also allow new families to get into the system before the first round of matching.

“Our priority is to ensure every eligible Colorado child is able to access our preschool program and this extension will give families more time to enroll, put their child on the path to success, and help save families an average of $6,000 per year,” said Dr. Lisa Roy, CDEC Executive Director.

From February 17-24, CDEC will allow families who have already selected their providers to reopen their initial application and reevaluate their choices of providers to make sure they still have the best providers selected for their needs. CDEC has modified the timeline of future application launches to accommodate the circumstances and to give families ample time to review their choices. Additionally, the deadline for families to apply in the first round of applications has been extended to February 24.

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

The system 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 us to make any needed improvements before then.

Every child will receive up to 15 hours of UPK per week in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten. Up to 30 hours of free preschool may be available for children with one or more qualifying factors, pending availability and funding. Three-year-olds with one or more qualifying factors are eligible for 10 hours. 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 upk.colorado.gov 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.

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. Learn more about Colorado’s Universal Pre-K program.

The Department of Early Childhood selected the vendor BridgeCare for its 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.

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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.