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Application portal for Universal Preschool Colorado opens Thursday

bradford preschool
Posted at 8:13 AM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 10:13:40-05

DENVER — The portal for Colorado's Universal Preschool Program opens Thursday for the 2024-2025 school year. The program promises every family in the state 15 hours per week of free preschool the year before kindergarten.

According to the Colorado Department of Early Childhood, the portal will open up on February 29 with a few additions to the enrollment process this year.

Parents will still see a list of participating providers and their hours, rates, location, and more. Families will also still be prompted to rank their top 10 providers.

Following the matching round in April followed by the second matching round in July families will be able to work directly with a UPK provider to enroll their child.

The state says that this year a new qualifying factor for "children in poverty" identified as a child living at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, will be eligible for full-day preschool or 30 hours a week.

“The additional hours of preschool provide crucial support to Colorado’s most vulnerable preschool-aged children,” said Dr. Lisa Roy, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Early Childhood. “We’re grateful to the Rules Advisory Committee members who promoted this factor. Smart policies like these get us closer and closer to ensuring every child in Colorado is valued, healthy, and thriving.”

The program launched in the fall of the 2023-2024 school year after voters approved a tax on tobacco in 2020 to fund the program.

As we previously reported the UPK program did not roll out without a hitch last year. News5 spoke to families who were frustrated by the matching process. The program also was met with a lawsuit filed by six Colorado School Districts who alleged the state's poor rollout of the program caused districts to lose revenue, created more work for administrators, and diminished relationships with parents and students.

In light of community, provider, and stakeholder feedback about the rollout of the program, a few changes have been made to the program according to the state, those are below.

  • Pre-Registration: Families can pre-register with a known provider to continue care for a child currently enrolled, with a sibling currently enrolled, or with a parent or guardian currently employed with a Universal Preschool provider through March 28, 2024. 
  • Family Matching: Families who are seeking preschool programs with a new provider can register and browse providers starting February 29. Families will be matched with one of their top 10 preferred providers in April and July. 

Learn more and apply here.

Chalkbeat Colorado update on Universal Preschool