DENVER (KDVR) — Sixty-five thousand children could be eligible for Colorado’s universal preschool program.
Despite many lawsuits, UPK leaders said the program is working. More than 36,000 children are enrolled in the program so far.
Beginning in August, Colorado’s universal preschool program will provide 10-15 hours per week of free preschool to every child in their year before entering kindergarten.
To be eligible for preschool during the 2023-24 school year, a child must be at least three years old and younger than five years old on Oct. 1.
Some families wish the program paid for full-time care.
“What we know and what we’ve seen from a lot of our families who are applying is that half-day isn’t enough,” said Dawn Odean, the director of universal preschool.
However, you can enroll your child in a full-day program and receive the benefits of half-day care, which they said is a savings of about $6,000 per year.
“It’s definitely our aim to give that relief and support children thriving and their growth alongside their families, and so we have heard overwhelmingly from families that the process was easy, and that they appreciate it,” said Odean.
There are options for community-based, school-based, or home-based preschool settings. This is not for every preschool, only the programs that opt in. There are more than 2,000 across the state.
“It’s a one-stop shop for that search and find so a family doesn’t have to go to each individual website, find connections and go to their maps and figure it out. That’s all on the website,” Odean said.
Each family can choose up to five places they’d like to enroll their child in and the application can be done in about 10-12 mins from their phone. Then in a few weeks, the state will get back to you about possible matches.
A number of lawsuits have been filed against the program, one of those by a group of catholic schools that claim they are being excluded from the benefits because of their beliefs.
However, the UPK program requires providers to not discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation.