Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado ensures that every child in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten is eligible for half-day (15 hours), state-funded, voluntary preschool beginning in the 2023-24 school year. Three-year-olds with qualifying factors are eligible for part-time (10 hours) preschool programming. Families of children in the year before they are eligible for
kindergarten with certain qualifying factors, are eligible for an additional 15 hours stacked on top of the half-day programming, bringing those children to full-day programming. UPK Colorado allows families to choose the right setting for their child, whether it is in a licensed community-based, school-based or home-based preschool setting.
Many children will also qualify for Colorado’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), Head Start, and other funding sources that can be stacked on top of UPK Colorado hours to meet the needs of families. In coordination with their preschool providers, families are also welcome to provide a co-pay for additional hours as needed.
UPK Colorado will save families an average of $6,000 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 UPK Colorado by reading the stakeholder-driven Universal Preschool Recommendations, which were approved unanimously by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission.
How to apply for UPK Colorado
The application for Universal Preschool opened in January 2023 via this user-friendly application portal for families. After the UPK application launches, the Department will be working to bring additional state-funded early childhood services to the same application portal, reducing the level of burden and bureaucracy placed on families.
Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to get notified when the application goes live.
How to get assistance
UPK Colorado is coordinated at the local level through Local Coordinating Organizations (LCOs). LCOs are local government or non-profit entities that apply and are designated by CDEC to serve this role. With support from CDEC, LCOs are responsible for coordinating a mixed delivery system of UPK Colorado in their community, with the longer term expectation that they will coordinate all 0-5 related services within their community. Families looking for assistance navigating preschool services will be able to contact their LCOs for assistance.
Click here to find the LCO in your community.