We are excited to say that the new year will ring in new opportunities for children, parents, and preschools in Colorado.
Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado lawmakers, and the Department of Early Childhood strongly believe that every child deserves and needs access to high-quality preschool because it will create long-lasting, positive impacts for our state.
In 2020, Colorado voters made it clear that they share these values by overwhelmingly approving funding for free universal preschool through Proposition EE.
Studies show that those who participate in preschool are more likely to be kindergarten ready, less likely to repeat a grade, and more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and be successful in the future. Access to preschool also helps kids in less tangible ways by boosting self-confidence, developing social skills, and nurturing curiosity and a love of learning.
The benefits of access to free preschool don’t end with our children, however. Right now, for example, we have two job openings for every one person in Colorado. Providing access to quality child care can help boost the economy and family’s financial security by allowing parents to reenter the workforce. Preschool allows parents to work with the confidence that their children are well-cared for and getting a quality education that gives them the foundation for success in work and life.
That’s why we worked with Polis to pass and begin implementing the bipartisan House Bill 1295 in 2022, which created Colorado’s first universal preschool program set to start in the 2023-24 school year. This program is estimated to save parents an average of $6,000 a year.
Starting on Jan. 17, families will be able to enroll their children in the Universal Preschool Colorado program, which offers high-quality, voluntary preschool to every child in the year before they are eligible to enter kindergarten. All kids will be eligible for a half day of state-funded care, and three-year-olds with qualifying factors are eligible for part-time (10 hours) of preschool programming.
More than 1,300 community preschools and school districts across the state have already signed up to be a part of this exciting new initiative – and there is still time to participate. Community preschools and school districts who want to be a part of helping Colorado kids thrive should register as soon as possible, here. provider.upk.colorado.gov.
Starting Tuesday, families can go online and choose any participating licensed provider in their area, including school-based, community-based, and home-based care. During the enrollment process, families will be able to input their information, such as where they live and how they get to work, and the system will show ideal options for families that work with their schedules. To enroll your child or find out more for yourself visit this website. https://upk.colorado.gov/
Additional state-funded hours may be available as well, based on child or family circumstances that may impact kindergarten readiness. The Universal Preschool Colorado program will help families access early education while simultaneously allowing providers to remain at their desired capacity, connect with new families, and build their businesses for a wider audience.
Research has shown that access to preschool improves language, literacy rates, and math skills, and we believe every child deserves this opportunity. This landmark program will help all children and families thrive and build a better future for the state, so we encourage Colorado parents and providers to get involved today.
Lisa Roy is the executive director of the year-old Colorado Department of Early Childhood. Steve Fenberg is the president of the Colorado Senate and represents Senate District 19. Janet Buckner represents Senate District 29, and Emily Sirota represents House District 9. Fenberg, Buckner and Sirota sponsored HB 1295 along with former state lawmaker Alec Garnett.
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