Early Childhood Education (ECE)
The Colorado Department of Early Childhood has developed a universal online process for Preschool Enrollment for 2023-2024. Enrollment is set to open on January 17th in the BridgeCare portal but may be changed.
BridgeCare Universal Preschool Application (will go live in January)
Weld Re-8 is excited to participate in the new Universal Preschool Program!
The Preschool Department is excited for the opportunities that Universal Preschool (UPK) will bring to our community. Universal Preschool will bring the following changes to our programming and processes:
- A new “universal” application will be used for the application process
- ALL children who are four-year olds, on or before October 1, will receive free half-day preschool
- There will be opportunities for additional hours of free preschool for qualifying four-year olds at certain school locations
- We will begin the application process when it is made available mid-January. We anticipate the application to be available on January 17, however this is subject to change.
- For more information please contact Karmen Sawicki [email protected] or Stephanie Mehnert ([email protected])
Colorado Department of Early Childhood Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
What is the Universal Preschool Program (UPK)?
Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, Colorado’s Universal Preschool Program will provide 10 hours per week of free, high-quality, voluntary preschool to every four-year-old Colorado child in their year before entering kindergarten.
Note: to be eligible for the 2023-24 school year, a child must be at least three years old and younger than five years old on October 1, 2023.
Families will be able to choose among different program types (i.e., centers, homes, preschool – private and public) and select one that best meets their needs.
How do I apply for the Universal Preschool Program?
Families can apply for the 2023-24 year using the Universal Preschool application beginning in January 2023. This user-friendly application portal will allow families to determine their child’s eligibility for Universal Preschool and eligibility for additional hours. The application will be available in multiple languages including English, Spanish and Arabic.
What can families do to prepare for the Universal Preschool application?
To prepare for the UPK application, make sure you have a copy (PDF, digital, photocopy, etc.) of your child’s birth certificate. You will need this to enroll your child in the UPK program.
Learn more about how to obtain a birth certificate in Colorado.
Will the Universal Preschool program replace the existing Colorado Preschool Program?
Yes, the Universal Preschool Program will replace the existing Colorado Preschool Program – which provides 10 hours per week of preschool for at-risk students and is administered by school districts.
Some children will qualify for more than 10 state-funded hours based on risk factors that are still to be developed within the UPK program.
What if families need more than 10 hours of preschool per week?
There will be a number of ways to access additional hours, as we know many families will require more than 10 hours a week of preschool education.
Some children will qualify for additional state-funded hours based on risk factors yet to be defined by the CDEC. Information about risk factors, application process, and additional hours of care will be published as it becomes available on the CDEC website.
Many children who meet risk-factor criteria will also qualify for Colorado’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), Head Start, and other funding sources that can be stacked on top of the 10 UPK hours per week to meet the needs of families. The CDEC is working towards creating a single, unified application for all of these services.
In coordination with their preschool providers, families are also welcome to provide a co-pay for additional hours as needed.
What is a Local Coordinating Organization (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.
Where do I go for more information or if I have questions about UPK?
For the most up-to-date information on the Universal Preschool Program, visit: