Universal Preschool (UPK) Matching Process

Families are matched to a preschool provider using criteria created by the Colorado Department of Early Education (CDEC) to reflect family choice, eligibility, and “weighted priorities.”

The match criteria give added weight to family choice that: 

  1. Creates continuity of care (chances for children to continue their participation in a program and have stable relationships with caregivers),
  2. has siblings in the same program, or
  3. has a parent employed by the provider.

UPK weekly matching timeline

Family applications are accepted and matched with providers throughout the year.


This program year, the application for Universal Preschool opened in January with several match rounds lasting a few weeks each. In the summer of 2023, we moved to weekly match rounds prior to school starting in August. As of November 6th, UPK applications are now only processed through walk-in enrollment. 

Each weekly round for the 2023-2024 school year started on Monday and followed this schedule:

On Monday the weekly Deferred Acceptance Algorithm was run (the DAA is a technology standard to matching solutions) and matches were sent to providers

Providers had until Wednesday to review and confirm their matches. Some providers will require specific information from families to show their program requirements are met, such as requirements for co-op program volunteer hours, language, faith, employer, or confirmation that the program does not serve children with IEPs. Providers can only decline a match based on specific criteria.

On Friday families were notified of their match and asked to accept or decline. Families had through the following Thursday to review and accept/decline their child’s UPK match. 

If families accepted the match, they contacted the matched provider to complete enrollment. If the family did not complete enrollment within 30 days, the provider could decline the match. If families declined the match, their application was re-run in the next match round.

We are currently waiting for information from CDEC about when the 2024-2025 application and match rounds will open.