The program is for children in their last year before kindergarten.
Starting in August, the state will pay for nine months of half-day pre-K, which is up to 15 hours per week. The program is expected to save families about $6,000.
The Goetsch family from Windsor is excited to register their daughter, Ava, in the program.
“We have two kids and we’ve really been looking forward to this program and hoping to utilize it,” said Rachel Goetsch.
“It’s just more money that we can put toward enrichment opportunities for our kids,” Jeremy Goetsch said.
Families will be able to pick from three different types of providers including school-based, home-based and center-based. Parents will pick five options and then the state will send a match in six to eight weeks.
Originally, the program would not take children who have turned 5 years old by Oct. 1, and this would have been a problem for kids like Ava who will turn five in September. She would have been too young to qualify for kindergarten in her district, but too old to qualify for UPK.
But after collaboration in recent days, the state decided to shift the age requirements to align with individual school districts.
Dr. Lisa Roy, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Early Childhood, said, “If your school district has a cutoff date, we are honoring that cutoff date.”
Roy expects the program will have a big impact.
“Families will get to save money. They will have that ability to go to work and know that their child is in a quality setting, supported by funding from the state.”
Unfortunately, the registration portal is still being updated with the shift in age requirements. So, kids who turn five before Oct. 1 will not be able to register on the portal right away. Roy hopes to have the portal updated in a few weeks.
About 65,000 kids in Colorado could be eligible. Roy said that there is funding to pay for all of them. Right now, the state is hoping to enroll more providers in all parts of the state.