Universal Preschool

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Overview

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood will be responsible for the delivery of ten hours of high quality, universal, voluntary preschool for all Colorado children in the year before they enter kindergarten. Licensed school-based, community-based, and home-based preschool settings are eligible to participate in Universal Preschool, allowing families as much choice as possible in selecting the preferred setting for their child.


Many families will require more than ten hours of care, and there will be ways to access additional hours. In coordination with their preschool providers, families are welcome to pay for additional hours of care as needed, and some children may qualify for additional hours, funded by the state, based on family income and other risk factors. These details will be developed following the launch of the Department of Early Childhood.


The Colorado Universal Preschool Program is expected save families an average of $4,300 per year on child care. High quality preschool programs are known to aid in a child’s development and to have social, academic, and economic benefits that are carried with that child throughout their life. The launch of this program, as a result of the voter-approved Proposition EE,  builds on Colorado’s long-standing commitment to children and families and helps ensure that they are valued, healthy and thriving. 


Learn more about Colorado’s Universal Preschool program by reading the stakeholder-driven Universal Preschool Recommendations, which were approved unanimously by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission.

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Legislation

The legislation to establish the Colorado Department of Early Childhood and Universal Preschool Program, HB22-1295, passed the General Assembly with bipartisan support and was signed into law by the Governor in April 2022. As outlined in the summary, the bill is “concerning the department of early childhood, and, in connection therewith, establishing the duties of the department of early childhood and the executive director of the department, relocating early childhood programs from the departments of human services and education to the department of early childhood, creating the Colorado universal preschool program, and making and adjusting appropriations.”

Click here to read the full the legislation.

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Universal Preschool Recommendations

These recommendations were developed as a result of an extensive stakeholder process and were unanimously approved by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission. The recommendations outlined in this report aim to provide Colorado’s Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) with guidance and direction to ensure a successful launch of the voluntary, universal preschool program. Click here to read the recommendations.