Universal Pre-K (UPK) In Larimer County
Early Childhood Council of Larimer County (ECCLC) is thrilled to be Larimer County’s Local Coordinating Organization (LCO) for Universal Pre-K (also known as UPK, universal pre-kindergarten, and universal preschool). We will continually be updating this page with opportunities to collaborate and learn. We are determined to ensure that UPK works our way in Larimer County. That means we will strive to make sure that everyone impacted by UPK, including families, early care and education providers, community partners, government, and local organizations has a voice–and say–in how UPK plays out in Larimer County.
Sign up for email communications about UPK in Larimer County here or via the QR code.
UPK Communications & Resources
There will be more planning sessions to come!
UPK Family Application
- The UPK family application is NOW OPEN and available in English, Spanish and Arabic.
- Access the family application HERE.
- Click here to view a video of the family application experience
- Click here to view an example of a provider search
UPK Provider Portal
- Access the provider portal HERE.
- If you are logging in for the first time, use the email associated with your child care license.
What is Universal Pre-K (UPK)?
- 15 hours a week of free, high-quality, voluntary preschool to every Colorado child in their year before entering kindergarten
- UPK Colorado is a 36-week program. The total hours required is as follows: Part-time (10 hours) 360 hours Half-day (15 hours) 540 hours Full-day (30 hours) 1,080 hours
- UPK Colorado allows families to choose the right setting for their child, whether it is in a licensed community-based, school-based or home-based preschool setting
- A result of the voter-approved Proposition EE
- Launches in 2023 for the 2023-2024 school year
How do I apply for UPK Colorado?
- There is a universal family application that is now open and available in English, Spanish and Arabic.
How do I find a preschool provider?
- Go to upk.colorado.gov and you will be able to search what providers are available based on where you live and where you work. During the application you will be able to select your top five providers and rank them. All types of providers will be in the system from school districts to child-care centers to licensed home facilities. You will be asked if your child is already enrolled at a provider, has a sibling in a provider’s care or if a parent is employed by the provider – if any of these are true, it will be taken into consideration during the matching process.
- Here are a few resources that may be helpful as you choose a preschool:
What if my provider is not listed in the family application?
- Participation in UPK is voluntary. Please speak with your provider to find out if they will be offering UPK.
What if families need more than 15 hours of preschool a week?
- UPK funding covers 15 hours a week of preschool programing. If a family needs more than 15 hours, they can choose to pay out of pocket for those additional hours.
- Children also will continue to qualify for the state’s Child Care Assistance Program, Head Start and other funding sources, which can be stacked on top of the 10 universal preschool hours.
What documents will I need to provide to apply for UPK?
- Make sure to have a copy of your child’s birth certificate (PDF, digital, photocopy, etc.), which you will need to register your child for UPK. To be eligible for Colorado’s state UPK, your child will need to be 4 on or before October 1, 2023. Learn more about how to obtain a birth certificate in Larimer County here.
- You will need to provide proof of income with your application if you are applying for additional hours. For information on what documents are accepted, please visit the state’s FAQs here.
What is the timeline for families to apply and be matched to a school?
- Families can apply for UPK Colorado starting on January 17th. The first round of applications will begin to be “matched” with providers on February 27th and families will be notified around April 26th. The state will have ongoing rounds of application review and matching.
Why will UPK have a mixed delivery system?
- A mixed delivery model allows parents to choose among different program types (i.e., centers, homes, preschool – private and public) and select one that best meets their needs.
- Children can participate in a program that meets their development and learning style.
How do preschool providers sign up to be part of UPK?
- Provider registration has opened on the state’s UPK Portal through BridgeCare. If you are interested to start the process, you can follow the initial steps below and a state-developed provider guide here.
- Log in to the UPK portal at the following link: upk.colorado.gov
- Important note: initial accounts were created using the same email for the state licensing system (Provider Hub). It is important that you log into the portal using that same email address.
- Complete your provider registration – CDEC has recorded a video on the provider registration workflow experience, including submitting the registration form and filling in your provider profile.
- Sign the provider agreement – after you have completed your registration process (#2), we will send you the provider service agreement as the final step.
- Important note: All of the above must be completed for your preschool to be publicized to families.
Where can we access the provider agreement?
- ECCLC will send you the provider agreement once you have completed the registration steps outlines above. You can also access the agreement here .
When is the deadline to register as a provider?
- Providers are allowed to sign-up as a participating provider on a rolling basis. However, the family application is expected to open on January 17th and only providers who have completed the registration process and signed the provider service agreement will be displayed to families to choose from and be matched with. We recommend signing up as soon as possible if you would like to ensure that families can select your school.
- If you are a provider that wants to participate in UPK Colorado but have not completed a portal or signed an agreement you must do so before 6/30/23.
Are we allowed to charge families for the remainder of their tuition not covered by UPK?
- Per the state’s FAQ (pg. 6), providers cannot charge more for the hours provided by UPK, but if a child attends hours more than their allocated UPK slot, you can charge for the additional tuition cost.
- Families must receive the UPK services for the number of hours covered by their rate without any additional charge. If families are enrolled for additional hours beyond what the rate covers, and the provider’s tuition for preschool is lower than the UPK Colorado reimbursement rate, then the family shall receive a tuition credit toward to total tuition (CDEC Rule). If a family is enrolled for more hours than covered by the rate and the provider’s tuition is higher, the provider may charge the family at a rate equal to what other families are paying for the same period of time above the UPK hours.
- For example, if a child has a 15 hour/week slot from UPK, but attends 20 hours/week, you may charge for the additional 5 hours but it must be equal to what other families are paying for the same period for additional hours not covered by UPK Colorado.
- We are waiting on further clarification from the state if there are additional rules on what providers are allowed to charge
Will Universal Pre-K replace the existing Colorado Preschool Program?
- Universal preschool will replace the existing Colorado Preschool Program, which provides 15 hours a week of preschool for at-risk students and is administered by school districts. Some children will qualify for more than 15 state-funded hours based on risk factors that are still to be developed.
UPK hours & rates
- 10 hours of preschool programming per week
- 3-year-olds with one qualifying factor, served by school district
- $4,757.44 (based on a 9 month school year)
- 15 hours of preschool programming per week
- All Colorado children in their year before kindergarten (must be 4-years-old by 10/1)
- $5,944.89 (based on a 9 month school year)
- 30 hours of preschool programming per week
- All Colorado children in their year before kindergarten with the factor of income and one additional qualifying factor are eligible for an additional 15 hours stacked on top of the half-day programming, pending eligibility confirmation and available funding. (must be 4-years-old by 10/1)
- $10,511.26 (based on a 9 month school year)
What is ECCLC doing about early care and education workforce issues in Larimer County?
- ECCLC is recently rolled out a workforce roadmap to make targeted recommendations for Larimer County. The roadmap focuses on improving recruitment and retention, achieving higher compensation of ECE professionals, and ongoing professional development.
Workforce Roadmap Executive Summary
What is an LCO?
- Local Coordinating Organizations (LCOs) will be responsible for the coordination of Universal Preschool at the local level – this includes supporting families in navigating enrollment, tracking and reporting on seat availability in preschools, communicating with and supporting providers, and ensuring the smooth rollout of at least ten hours of free voluntary preschool for every child in the year before they are eligible to enter kindergarten. In time, CDEC will work with LCOs to broaden their areas of coordination, building a cohesive system among all early childhood service providers in their catchment area.
- Learn more about what an LCO is and ECCLC’s role in implementing universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) here.
Questions about UPK?
Do you have important questions about UPK? If so, please sign up here for a 1 on 1 UPK information meeting with our UPK manager! If the times provided do not work for you, email [email protected] for scheduling.
UPK Our Way — Share Your Ideas and Comments
ECCLC has created a form to collect any ideas and comments you may have about UPK. As your dedicated partner and LCO, we will work diligently to answer those questions in a timely fashion. ECCLC looks forward to supporting you in doing what you do best- providing high quality care to the children and families of Larimer County.