Universal Preschool Colorado

About UPK Colorado and Funding

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, the Department of Early Childhood will fund half-day, high-quality, voluntary preschool for every Colorado child in their year before entering kindergarten. Payments will be made from the state to providers on a per-child basis, based on a formula. To view the rates by LCO, click here.

All licensed school-based, community-based, and home-based preschool settings are eligible and encouraged to participate in the delivery of this groundbreaking program and to be a part of building a better future for children, families, and the State of Colorado. Unlicensed or license-exempt child care providers are not eligible to participate in UPK Colorado, but we encourage these providers to consider getting licensed, which would allow them to participate. Click here to learn how to get licensed

In addition to the half-day care provided to every child in their year before kindergarten, UPK Colorado will allocate funds to providers to provide additional hours for children who meet one or more of the following qualifying factors:

  • A child who lives in a low-income household (270% of the 2023 Federal Poverty Guidelines)
  • A child who is a dual language learner and the native language spoken in the child’s home is a language other than English, or the child’s native language is not English
  • A child who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • A child who is currently in a foster care home or in non-certified kinship care
  • A child who is identified as homeless 

Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when new information become available. Providers are also encouraged to allow parents to provide a co-pay for additional hours beyond the half-day funded by the state, if this is a suitable option for the provider. 

How Providers Participate in UPK Colorado

UPK Colorado Provider Agreement Terms and Conditions

In recognition that local communities know how best to serve local families and providers, the model for the coordination of UPK Colorado is through Local Coordinating Organizations (LCOs). Click here to read the details about the role of and application process for LCOs. LCOs are the primary point of contact for preschool providers coordinating their participation in UPK Colorado. Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when LCOs are designated. 

How Families will Apply and Enroll in UPK Colorado

The application for UPK Colorado will go live in January 2023. The Department of Early Childhood will work with a vendor to build a user-friendly application portal for families to determine their child’s eligibility for Universal Preschool and eligibility for additional hours. The application is also anticipated to allow parents to rank their preferences of providers and match families with a provider with a slot available - at that point, the family would be referred to the provider for the actual enrollment. These are the minimum expectations for the application for the first year of UPK. After the UPK application launches, the Department will be working to bring additional state-funded early childhood services to the same application portal, working towards a universal application for all 0-5 services funded by the state. 

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