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Nearly 28k families have signed up for universal Pre-K, deadline extended

The process of matching families to providers will begin with the first batch of applications on Feb. 27.

COLORADO, USA — While nearly 28,000 families have already signed up for Colorado's new Universal Preschool (UPK) program the state has extended the deadline to apply for the round of applications.

It was Feb. 14 but will now be Feb. 24.

From Feb. 17-24, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (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.

On Feb. 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.

More than 150 new providers have signed up to participate in UPK since the January family launch. 

The system will continue to be open to new families to apply throughout the spring, summer and into fall on a rolling basis. CDEC will announce a date for the second batch of applications to be matched after the first batch of applicants is matched. That will allow them to make any improvements with the system and process. 

As part of the UPK program, every child enrolled 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 will 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.

Those qualifying factors include:

  • Household incomes under 270% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • Having an Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Housing status
  • Dual language learner
  • 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.

Top questions about the program

What if I don’t see the provider I’m looking for?

If you do not see the provider you are looking for, contact the provider directly. There are several reasons why the provider may not be visible yet. UPK Colorado is a voluntary program; if your preferred provider is not registered with UPK Colorado, you can ask them to join.

Using my child's birthdate, how do I know if my child is eligible for UPK Colorado?

If your child was born between Oct. 2, 2018, and Oct. 1, 2019, they are eligible for the 15 hours available to 4-year-olds. If your child was born between Oct. 2, 2019, and Oct. 1, 2020, and meets certain qualifying criteria, they are eligible for the 10 hours available to 3-year-olds. 

My child was born before October 2, 2018, but we are not sending them to preschool until the 2023-2024 school year. They are showing up as ineligible for this program due to age. How do I proceed?

In the state of Colorado, preschool and kindergarten are voluntary and therefore families have the right to defer enrollment in both based on their child’s needs. The UPK Colorado program is funded through the legislature to cover services for children in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten and qualifying three year old's only.

While your child can still enroll in preschool, their attendance is not funded by UPK Colorado. Children born on or after Oct. 2, 2018, that wish to send their child to preschool in the 2023-2024 school year should contact their desired providers directly to inquire about enrollment outside of UPK Colorado.

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