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Colorado to launch Universal Preschool Program; families will get 10 free hours of preschool each week

Colorado to launch Universal Preschool Program
Posted at 9:07 PM, Oct 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 00:15:21-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Starting next fall, families in Colorado will be able to take advantage of 10 free hours of preschool every week.

The Colorado Universal Preschool Program, also known as UPK, will allow families to choose the right place for their child to learn. That could be a licensed community-based setting, a school-based setting, or a home-based setting. I spoke with one busy mother who says this program cannot launch soon enough.

“It is stressful because I have to be up at a certain time. So that means I have to be up early, get myself ready, get my three kids ready,” said Theresa Henning, a local mother. Childcare costs are outrageous. They are expensive and as a working single mom for part time, it would help a lot. Save some money, for the things that they do need.”

The program is made possible through a voter approved nicotine tax, known as Proposition EE. Every preschooler in Colorado will be given 10 hours of free education.

“I think that the UPK Program is going to be an incredible shift in the way that the state of Colorado and hopefully the nation as they watch Colorado think about how we invest in early education. It’s an economic driver, it’s a support to families and it ultimately provides that support to those children to receive those quality early education services,” said Liz Denson, president and CEO at Early Connections Learning center.

There’s still a few hurdles to overcome before the program comes to life.

“We don’t have enough teachers at the moment to cover the care we have in place, and I think that’s one of the biggest concerns that you’re going to hear,” said Denson.

Despite challenges, mothers like Theresa are sure glad Colorado has voted to make preschool a bit more affordable.

“It takes a village to raise children and that’s what we got to be, a village to raise our babies,” said Henning.

The application to apply for the UPK Program will go live in January. While it’s ten hours of preschool for now, some kids could qualify for more free hours. There have also been conversations about extending the program up to 20 hours. The Colorado Department of Early Childhood is still working out those details. You can sign up for updates on the program’s launch by visiting here.


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