How UPK Intersects with Early Intervention, Individualized Education Plans (IEP), and Special Ed

The UPK Colorado application will only allow families to submit if they are eligible. Students must be 4 years old or 3 years old with additional eligibility factors.

  • UPK for 4-year-olds is a mixed delivery system where parents are able to choose and rank the provider where their child attends.
  • UPK for 3-year-olds is provided through partnership with the local school district.

Local school districts may also have separate enrollment requirements, and more information beyond what is in the UPK application may be needed. (For example, the UPK application does not accept the IEP document.)

  • Families selecting Jeffco Public School sites will also complete Enroll Jeffco for their students.
  • Please see Gilpin, Clear Creek, and Boulder Valley School Districts for current requirements.

UPK eligibility is based only on birthdate. If a child is eligible for kindergarten, they do not qualify for UPK funds.

The IEP must be confirmed and documented for the family to qualify for an additional qualifying factor for UPK.

If a student is eligible (year before kindergarten), they can apply for their initial 15 hours and then have an additional qualifying factor added during the school year once IEP is confirmed, or other additional eligibility changes.

Students with an IEP are eligible for UPK rates:

  • 3-year-olds: 10 hour/part time UPK rate
  • 4-year-olds: 15 hour/half day rate or 30 hour/full day UPK rate, if family also meets income qualifications.

Families must apply and match with participating providers. UPK rates are paid by the Colorado Dept. of Early Childhood (CDEC) to the preschool provider.

There are no UPK application deadlines. Families can apply for UPK throughout the year as eligibility status may change.

Where are IEP and SPED Services Offered?

Special Education services are offered at school district providers and school district contracted partners like Head Start for both 3- and 4-year-old students.

  • Some Jeffco Charter schools offer limited Special Education services. Please check with Charter schools directly for more information.
  • Families of 4-year-old UPK eligible students may waive IEP services and enroll at community provider (where they are NOT required to provide special education support). In this instance, the IEP is on hold with the school district. It can be reactivated if the family re-enrolls.
  • Families of UPK-eligible 3-year-olds must be served through a school district provider or partner regardless of additional UPK eligibility factor (IEP or other) in order to access UPK funding. There are a limited number of 3-year-old slots available, so please check with your school district before making a final decision

DDRC - Early Intervention (Part C)

Families referred for an Early Intervention (EI) screening and assessment, birth to age 3, will work with DDRC to determine if their child is eligible for EI services. 

Child Find - creates the IEP

Child Find completes evaluation for children age 2 ½ and older and creates an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) when a student is determined eligible for special education.

Public Schools will offer FAPE

FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) of 15 hours is provided for children 3 years old with an IEP. (Public school districts will provide funds to cover an additional 5 hours for 3-year-olds.)

Additional Information