Free preschool in Colorado: The right way to apply for common pre-Okay — science weblog

Inside Colorado’s free preschool initiative

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The father or mother software for Colorado’s new free preschool program opened at 8 a.m. on Tuesday — a significant milestone within the march towards this system’s launch subsequent summer season. 

This system, funded partially by a voter-approved nicotine tax, will supply 10 to fifteen hours per week of tuition-free preschool to 4-year-olds statewide, with some eligible for 30 hours per week. As well as, some 3-year-olds will probably be eligible for 10 hours per week.

Free preschool in Colorado

The appliance totally free preschool is open. Households who fill out the applying by Feb. 14, will discover out what preschool their little one matched with round March 17.

State officers count on about 30,000 youngsters to decide into the common preschool program in its first yr. That’s about half the quantity that will probably be eligible. 

Right here’s what households have to know concerning the on-line preschool software: 

Who will get free preschool and what age have they got to be?

Three teams of youngsters qualify: 4-year-olds, some 3-year-olds who want further assist, and a small variety of 5-year-olds who’re too younger for kindergarten.

Allow us to clarify. The brand new preschool program is designed for kids within the yr earlier than they go to kindergarten — youngsters who flip 4 earlier than the state’s Oct. 1 cutoff date. The state pays for 15 hours per week of preschool for these college students for gratis to oldsters. Some preschool suppliers might supply solely 10 hours per week — for instance, a faculty district that gives Okay-12 lessons solely 4 days per week. 

Some 4-year-olds will get 30 hours of free preschool per week, together with these from lower-income households, who communicate a language in addition to English at house, are homeless, in foster care, or have disabilities. 

The brand new preschool program will even cowl 10 hours per week of preschool for 3-year-olds in these identical teams. 

What about 5-year-olds who aren’t in kindergarten but?

Some 5-year-olds will qualify totally free preschool and a few gained’t. Youngsters who dwell in class districts with kindergarten cutoff dates earlier than Oct. 1 will qualify in the event that they flip 5 after the district’s cutoff date and earlier than Oct. 1. For instance, a toddler in a district the place youngsters should flip 5 by Aug. 1 to attend kindergarten, will qualify totally free preschool in the event that they flip 5 in September. (The appliance might point out these youngsters aren’t eligible. State officers say households ought to contact the group coordinating common preschool of their space if this occurs. Search this county-by-county checklist to search out contact data for the precise native group.)

5-year-olds who may go to kindergarten however have been held out by their households — a follow typically referred to as redshirting — gained’t be capable to get free preschool via the brand new state program. 

What do I have to fill out the applying? Are there earnings necessities?

Many households will want about quarter-hour and never a lot else. The appliance is obtainable in English, Spanish, and Arabic, and oldsters ought to be capable to full the applying on a cellphone or laptop. 

Households whose family earnings qualifies their 4-year-olds for further hours or permits them to enroll a 3-year-old might want to add paperwork that show their earnings. Households that earn as much as 270% of the federal poverty restrict — about $81,000 a yr for a household of 4 — fall into this class.

If that describes you, this FAQ lays out which paperwork the state will settle for for proof of family earnings.  

Households who qualify for 3-year-old preschool or further hours of 4-year-old preschool for causes apart from earnings ranges — maybe their little one has a incapacity or is studying English — gained’t want to point out proof of earnings.

Test this FAQ for particulars about which paperwork the state will settle for for proof of family earnings.    

How do I understand how many hours my little one will get?

The web software system will inform you what number of hours your little one is eligible for after you enter a number of items of knowledge. There are 4 prospects: 

  • Not eligible: Your little one is simply too younger, too outdated, or doesn’t dwell in Colorado.
  • 10 hours: In case your little one is 3 and meets a number of of the eligibility standards.
  • 15 hours: In case your little one is 4. 
  • 30 hours: In case your little one is 4 and meets a number of of the eligibility standards.

Can I decide my little one’s preschool?

Sure. Households will probably be requested to select as much as 5 preschools they’d like their little one to attend and can be capable to rank their selections. Choices embrace school-based preschools, church-based preschools, preschool applications inside little one care facilities, and state-licensed home-based preschools. 

Search and map capabilities can be found to slim down the alternatives. You’ll be able to search for this system your little one already attends or discover new choices. Youngsters will probably be prioritized for a spot in a preschool in the event that they’re already enrolled there, if a sibling is enrolled there, or if a father or mother works there. 

There are some instances the place preschool suppliers might not settle for a preschool match made by the applying system. For instance, a school-based preschool may flip away a toddler who lives exterior district boundaries or an employer-based preschool that primarily supplies care to youngsters of firm workers might not enroll the kid of a non-employee. (Through the software course of, dad and mom will see a blue banner indicating if chosen preschools prioritize sure college students.) 

My little one has a incapacity. What preschools can I decide?

In case your little one has a particular training plan — formally referred to as an Individualized Training Program, or IEP — your little one will probably be served in a preschool classroom run by your faculty district. That’s due to the best way particular training legal guidelines are written.

In case your little one doesn’t have an IEP and also you’re nervous a couple of developmental delay, contact Baby Discover, the state’s early intervention program for 3- to 5-year-olds.

My little one is 3. What preschools can I decide?

Three-year-olds will largely be served in preschool school rooms run by their faculty districts. Some 3-year-olds might have non-school choices, however provided that their district companions with personal preschools. That’s due to the best way the state’s preschool legislation is written.

Dad and mom of 3-year-olds gained’t be capable to choose particular preschools on the state software. As a substitute, they’ll choose their native faculty district. That’s as a result of faculty districts are in command of matching 3-year-olds to particular preschool applications.

What if I don’t see my little one’s supplier on the checklist?

Preschool suppliers don’t need to take part within the state’s common preschool program, however greater than 1,000 have chosen to and extra are anticipated to enroll. State officers say if dad and mom don’t discover the preschool they need listed within the software system, they need to attain out to the preschool supplier and encourage them to enroll. 

What if I would like extra hours than what my preschooler is eligible for?

You’ll be able to nonetheless pay for further hours above and past what the state covers totally free, so long as the preschool provides extra hours. You can even see in the event you qualify for monetary assist via different means, such because the state’s little one care subsidy program for low-income households, referred to as the Colorado Baby Care Help Program

Do I have to fill out the applying instantly?

Households who fill out the applying by Feb. 24, the deadline for the primary spherical of purposes, could have extra choices and discover out sooner which preschool they matched with.

The primary software window runs from Jan. 17 to Feb. 24. (The unique finish date was Feb. 14, however state officers prolonged it.) Households will discover out their match on March 30. State officers stated households can nonetheless apply after Feb. 24, together with via spring and summer season.

I crammed out the state’s preschool software. Do I’ve to fill out my faculty district’s faculty selection software, too?

Probably. Some districts additionally need dad and mom to fill out faculty selection types if they need a spot in a district-run preschool. That features Denver and Jeffco, the 2 largest faculty districts. When you select a district-run choice, test your native district’s enrollment web site to see if they need you to use there as effectively.

The state software will decide whether or not your little one qualifies totally free preschool and in that case, for what number of hours. It can additionally match 4-year-olds to a particular preschool. The district faculty selection system collects extra data in order that youngsters might be enrolled in this system they matched with. For 3-year-olds, the district selection system is the place households get matched with a particular preschool.

If households fail to fill out the district selection kind, district officers they’ll attain out and work with them to get it carried out. In some instances, delays in filling out the district kind may imply households find yourself with fewer preschool choices.

What if I resolve towards the preschool my little one was matched with?

You’ll be able to reject the preschool match the state makes for you. Nevertheless it’s attainable you’ll need to resubmit your software.

When does free preschool begin in Colorado?

Not till August or September, each time the preschool program you matched with begins. Households will discover out their matches sooner, however tuition protection doesn’t kick in till late summer season.

My little one qualifies totally free preschool. Can my preschool cost further tuition or charges?

Sure and no. It relies upon what number of hours of care your little one wants every week. 

Preschools collaborating in Colorado’s common preschool program can not cost households extra cash — tuition, provide charges, or exercise charges — for the free hours the kid is eligible for via the state program. 

Nevertheless, preschools are allowed to cost for any extra hours they supply to a toddler above the variety of free hours granted via the state. For instance, if a 4-year-old receives 20 hours of preschool per week, however is just eligible for 15 free hours, the supplier can cost tuition for the extra 5 hours, plus provide or exercise charges for that further time.

I’ve extra questions. What ought to I do?

You may have three choices: 

  • Take a look at the state’s common preschool ceaselessly requested questions web page.
  • Contact the native group that’s coordinating the common preschool program in your county or area. Right here’s a county-by-county checklist of all of the teams — the state calls them Native Coordinating Organizations or LCOs — with e-mail addresses. 
  • Contact the state’s assist desk from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday via Friday, excluding state holidays. The quantity is 303-866-5223 and the e-mail is

Do you could have a query you don’t see answered right here or can’t discover the reply to elsewhere? Tell us at and we’ll do our greatest to search out a solution. 

Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat, protecting early childhood points and early literacy. Contact Ann at

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