Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado: Help for Schools and Providers

We are pleased to be Denver’s Local Coordinating Organization (LCO) for Colorado’s Universal Preschool (UPK) program. This means that DPP will continue to be your proven, trusted ally for child care providers located in Denver. We are committed to a transparent implementation process. In that spirit, we acknowledge that there may be some frustrations and adjustments along the way. With every new program, like UPK Colorado, there will be a learning period. You can lean on us to help navigate these new systems and advocate on your behalf. Ultimately, we all want what’s best for our children, and Colorado’s UPK program is one more piece of the puzzle to ensure more children enter kindergarten ready to reach their full potential.

Facts about UPK Colorado in Denver for schools and providers:

  • Colorado’s State UPK matching program is still in development and may interrupt the flow of your traditional enrollment process and schedules. Be prepared and flexible and know that DPP is striving to improve the process.
  • State UPK will fundamentally change Denver’s preschool ecosystem for the better by providing at least a projected $4,883 in annual State UPK tuition support for approved children attending a Denver-based State UPK-participating program.
  • DPP will continue to be your proven, trusted ally. We will aim to be fully transparent and minimize as many of the frustrations and adjustments as possible. We’ve got your back. 
  • As the Denver LCO, DPP has entered into a partnership with key early childhood education organizations like Denver’s Early Childhood Council, Denver Human Services, The Mayor’s Office of Children’s Affairs, Denver Public Schools, family resource centers, and several providers to support our collective goal that State UPK benefits our entire community as equitably as possible. 
  • DPP will serve as a conduit between the state, providers and families. We will continue to listen to concerns, proactively help to train our community on new systems, and push for the answers to your most important questions.
  • Colorado’s State UPK is an exciting new era in early childhood education for our state. And many of you worked hard to make this dream a reality. Let’s all remember the end goal while we work through the logistics and bumps as the support rolls out.
  • Supporting Colorado’s State UPK is consistent with the DPP mission and the intention of voters who twice passed the Denver Preschool Tax to help make early childhood education possible for kids.

For more information please review our Provider FAQ’s listed below or visit our complete UPK FAQ’s. You can also sign up to receive email updates from DPP below:

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Resources for Providers

Provider FAQs

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.

  1. Log in to the UPK portal at the following link: upk.colorado.gov
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

If you have additional questions, please contact us at denverupk@dpp.org.

DPP will send you the provider agreement once you have completed the registration steps outlines above. You can also access the agreement here .

For Denver-area preschools, DPP is your LCO. You can contact us at denverupk@dpp.org.

If you are outside of Denver, you can locate your LCO here.

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.

You can update your program information and resubmit as needed by logging into your account and clicking the “review” button. If you run into any issues, please let us know and we can help troubleshoot.

All providers must be licensed to participate in UPK. Requirements can be found in the provider service agreement, which is required to be signed before your program can participate in UPK.

The standards will be designed with providers at the table. For this particular standard, the state envisions providers supporting families by assisting them in finding resources to support a dual-language learner in the classroom and at home.

These standards will be developed by the state with input from providers. The state does not expect providers to be responsible for on-site provision of these resources. LCOs will likely play a key role in offering bulk services to providers in their catchment area.

As outlined on page 6 of the state’s FAQs: UPK Colorado is open to all licensed providers that have entered into an agreement with CDEC. This includes school-based, community-based, and family child care home providers. Providers will need to utilize a curriculum that meets the standards set by CDEC through a rulemaking process. A resource bank will be made available to help providers with curriculum planning and delivery.

While we cannot guarantee that a family will be matched at your school through the UPK matching process, the state is placing importance on continuity of care to keep children in their existing school placements. This is included on the family application, which launched on January 17th.

If a provider signs up for UPK, requests enough UPK slots for all of their currently enrolled children who will be eligible for UPK to receive one of those slots, and if all of those families successfully apply during the first application window and properly select that they are currently enrolled at that provider, those families should receive a UPK slot at that provider.

During the provider registration process, programs are required to specify if they can accommodate special needs (such as dietary restrictions, routine medication, language and physical supports, and a variety of other special needs), per the state’s family FAQ.

With that being said, we are still working with the state to understand the process for a provider to decline a match should they be matched to a student they are unable to accommodate. We are expecting more information and FAQs to be posted in the coming weeks.

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.

Yes, according to the state’s FAQs, “Services that are currently provided under CPP will be replaced by equivalent provisions under the UPK Colorado program from 2023-24 with the goal of unifying state-funding under one funding source. CPP will continue to run as normal for the 2022-23 school year.”