Universal Pre-K (UPK) Program

ECE UPK Application Opens January ___ ENDS February ____ (Dates to come)
As we gear up for the upcoming SchoolChoice season, schools that provide ECE should be aware that the SchoolChoice process for ECE families will be much different than in previous years. Along with other Colorado school districts, DPS is working with the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) to continue expanding its Early Childhood Education program by rolling out a new enrollment process for Universal Pre-K (UPK). This new change will provide additional funding opportunities for our ECE-providing schools and district partners, including charter schools and private ECE providers.

UPK ensures that every child in the year before they are eligible for kindergarten is eligible for half-day (15 hours per week) state-funded, voluntary preschool beginning in the 2024-25 school year. Three-year-olds with qualifying factors are eligible for at least part-time (10 hours per week) preschool programming. As an education provider, DPS must comply with the new UPK Program and follow state-level CDEC guidance in order to receive funding.

Under the new program, ECE-4 families and ECE-3 families will complete the new UPK application. ECE-4 families will go through the new UPK enrollment process to match their child with a quality half-day or full-day preschool. ECE-4 applications will not run through the typical DPS lottery system. An application through the DPS SchoolChoice system may still be required. ECE-3 families will still participate in the DPS SchoolChoice lottery system and will complete the UPK application to determine qualifying funding.
One important distinction between the previous DPS ECE SchoolChoice process and the new state-implemented process is that UPK will not have waitlists.
The CDEC will take into account the following priorities:
  • The ECE student has sibling(s) who currently attend the selected ECE provider.
  • The ECE student is continuing education at the selected ECE provider.
  • A parent of the ECE student is currently employed at the selected ECE provider.
Key Dates and Timeline
The UPK application will open on ____________ — please note that this window is separate from our DPS SchoolChoice window (Jan. 11-Feb. 12). The UPK system will notify ECE-4 families of their school assignment in March 2024. A timeline of the UPK Matching Process will be available soon.
Please encourage ECE parents to apply as early as possible to avoid potential delays or limited opportunities as waitlists will not be utilized for UPK applications.
Available Resources (23-24)
We understand that there may not be answers to many of your questions at this time. As we learn more about the details of this new process, please refer to the following resources:
 Thank you for your patience as we gather more information to support you and your ECE families through this transition.
The DPS Early Education Department