Colorado Universal Preschool Program


  • Universal Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds)


In 2023, Colorado launched its Universal Preschool Program to provide free, high-quality preschool education to all four-year-olds in the state, with special provisions for three-year-olds from low-income families or those who meet other qualifying criteria. Overseen by the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC), the program uses a streamlined enrollment process to make quality preschool more accessible. It also includes a family matching system, which lets parents choose from a range of licensed preschool providers, including school-based, community-based, and home-based options. Licensed preschool providers can participate in the program by agreeing to uphold its quality standards.


Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

High-quality, affordable early education and care supports children’s healthy development and allows families to work, engage in their own educational pursuits, and/or participate in other aspects of community life. To support children and families in these instrumental ways, research suggests there is a need to expand the availability of early education opportunities across the mixed-delivery system.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

– Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
– But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.

Learn more about Colorado

Context matters. Visit the Colorado profile page to learn more about the city landscape.

Visit the Colorado State Profile
  • The city population is 5,839,926
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 65%
  • The median family income among households with children is $102,300.00