Preschool for Every Colorado Four-Year-Old: Applications Accepted Year Round
Colorado’s Universal Preschool (UPK) program pays for every 4-year-old child in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten to attend half-day or 15 hours per week of preschool. Some families may choose a part-time or 10-hour per week option.
Some 4-year-olds may be eligible for additional funding for preschool hours if they qualify based on income and one additional qualifying factor. Some 3-year-olds may also qualify for funded part-time preschool (10 hours) if they meet certain qualifying factors.
What Happens When Families Receive their UPK Match?
After you have submitted your UPK application or submitted changes to your UPK application, you will receive notice by email or text with instructions on how to accept/decline your match. This process only occurs during active match rounds.
Currently all UPK placements are happening through “direct placement” which means that families should search for programs in the UPK portal and contact providers directly to see if there is available space. The Triad Bright Future Help Desk can also help you identify providers that may have openings. The next step is to complete the UPK application and the provider’s enrollment process. The provider will then contact the Triad Bright Futures Help Desk to place your child in the available seat.
Is My Child Eligible for UPK?
A child is eligible for UPK in the 2023-24 school year if the child turns 4 between 10/2/2022 and 10/1/2023; this child will qualify for 15 hours per week of preschool. If the child qualifies based on income and one additional qualifying factor, they may be eligible for additional hours.
A child may also be eligible for UPK in the 2023-24 school year if the child turns 3 between 10/2/2022 and 10/1/2023 and meets at least one of the qualifying factors. Three-year-olds with qualifying factors are eligible for 10 hours of preschool per week.
Need Help with Your UPK Application?
No, UPK applications are accepted and matched with providers on a rolling basis throughout the year.
You will still be able to enroll in a program of your choosing and the first 15 hours per week will be free and then you can pay for the additional hours or often the program can work with you to see if you might qualify for other programs to help subsidize the cost. You will be able to review the costs of each program on their page in the application program and decide which program is best for your family.
You will only need to show proof if your family income is less than 270% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. At the end of the application you will need to upload proof of your income. If you don’t have it when you first apply you will be able to log back in and add it to your application.
- If you have a job(s): Paycheck stub or pay envelope that shows the amount and how often pay is received; letter from employer stating gross wages and how often you are paid; or, if you work for yourself, business or farming papers, such as ledger or tax books.
- If you receive Social Security, Pensions, or Retirement: Social Security retirement benefit letter, statement of benefits received, or pension award notice.
- If you receive Unemployment, Disability, or Worker’s Compensation: Notice of eligibility from State employment security office, check stub, or letter from the Worker’s Compensation office.
- If you receive TANF Payments: Benefit letter from Colorado Human Services office.
- If you receive: Child Support or Alimony: Court decree, agreement, or copies of checks received.
- Military Housing Privatization Initiative: Letter or rental contract showing that your housing is part of the Military Privatized Housing Initiative.
- For All Other Income (Such as Rental Income): Information that shows the amount of the income, name of the person who received the income, the date it was received, and how often it was received.
- If you do not have income, you can include a brief note explaining how you provide food, clothing, and housing for your household, and when you expect an income.
All children are eligible to receive universal preschool services. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), partnering with your local school district is essential in ensuring aligned resources. School districts have responsibility for ensuring a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in accordance with IDEA and ECEA.
If your child does not have an IEP, and you have concern of a potential developmental delay, go to www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/childfinddirectory for information on next steps.
If the provider of your choice is licensed and participating in UPK, it’s possible that your child will be matched with that program, but not guaranteed.
To participate in UPK, families will apply online and rank their preferences for participating preschool providers. The system then matches the child with an available UPK slot at a participating preschool program.
UPK funding is given directly to participating preschool providers. UPK providers must be licensed by the State of Colorado. Licensed preschool programs participating in UPK could include:
- Licensed Family Child Care Homes
- Licensed Community Based Centers
- Licensed School District Based Programs
- Licensed Charter School Programs
- Licensed Head Start Programs
While many preschool programs will participate in UPK, the program is voluntary and not all programs will sign on to receive state UPK funding.
Families cannot use UPK funding to support the costs of an unlicensed provider, such as a family member, friend or neighbor.
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 four-year-old children in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten and qualifying three-year-olds only. If your child will be five on October 1, 2023, they are not eligible for free preschool through UPK. While your child may still enroll in preschool, their attendance is not funded by UPK Colorado. Families with children that will be five on October 1, 2023 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.