Before the Denver Preschool Program was created, too many families faced barriers to enrolling their children in high-quality early childhood education programs, including: availability of quality programs, lack of openings, fewer professional development opportunities for educators, challenges navigating the system, and, all too often, the cost of tuition. Currently, the average cost of preschool in Denver is over $12,000 a year, which is more than the average in-state college tuition. For most families, that expense represents 20% of their income, and for some Denver families, even up to 40%.
Denver Preschool Program began in 2006 as a voter approved sales tax so every child in Denver now has the opportunity to access a quality early education of their choice, giving them a jumpstart on their education. Children who attend an early childhood education program are more prepared for kindergarten, leading to stronger early language, literacy and math skills, and a higher likelihood of graduating high school, attending college, and succeeding in their careers.
To ensure every Denver child can experience the power of preschool, Denver Preschool Program offers tuition credits to every Denver family with a 4-year old. But, that is not enough. Denver Preschool Program also empowers early childhood educators with professional development and coaching, college scholarships and quality improvement resources, engages in extensive community outreach, and advocacy at the city, state and national level to re-imagine the early childhood education ecosystem as a whole.
Since 2006, Denver Preschool Program knows this holistic approach is critical to achieving the change Denver children and families deserve and the successes we have achieved thus far:
- 60% of Denver’s eligible students are benefitting from a Denver Preschool Program early childhood education program as compared to statewide where only 40% of children are attending preschool.
- DPP provided tuition credits to over 4,800 children during the 2020-2021 school year (65,000 historically since 2007), with over $15M a year in funding ($150M historically), and began covering 100% of preschool tuition costs for families experiencing financial hardship.
- In collaboration with our participating early childhood education providers and local early childhood partners, we have worked together to significantly increase the quality of early childhood education providers and helped ensure there are quality early childhood education options in every corner of the city.
It is our vision to see every young Denver child thrive in the high-quality preschool of their family’s choice and get a jumpstart on a successful education. We also hope to continue serving as a leading partner in the national conversation about early childhood education and support other cities and states in their efforts to achieve similar success.