Colorado is recruiting providers for its new free preschool program. Parents are next. |

Colorado is recruiting providers for its new free preschool program. Parents are next.

Ann Schimke
Preschoolers Laylamarie Larson, left, and Kinley Palmer play together during a morning class at Early Connections Learning Center in Colorado Springs Friday, July 30, 2021.
Mark Reis/For The Colorado Sun

Jennifer Piper, a longtime home-based child care provider in Loveland, is brimming with questions about how Colorado’s new universal preschool program will work when it launches next fall.

She recently sent a bulleted list of 14 questions to local officials, including basic ones about teacher qualification and curriculum requirements.

The state needs to win over providers like Piper to meet its ambitious goal of quickly building a preschool program capable of serving every 4-year-old in the state as well as some 3-year-olds.

And there are early signs that they are ready to sign on. More than 250 preschool providers, offering a total of 12,000 seats, have signed up for the universal program so far, according to state officials.

Colorado’s universal preschool program is one of Gov. Jared Polis’ signature priorities and represents a major expansion of tuition-free preschool in the state. The $335 million program is slated to serve 30,000 4-year-olds next year and even more in future years, according to state estimates. It will replace a smaller state-funded preschool program that currently serves about 19,000 children from low-income families or who have other risk factors.


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