MCSD Whiteboard: Colorado’s universal preschool will mean more opportunities for Moffat County kids
Moffat County 3- and 4-year-olds and their families will have expanded free access to Moffat County School District’s public preschool offering starting this fall.
After several steps, including a 2020 ballot initiative and a number of actions in the state House, Colorado has instituted universal preschool statewide.
This means all 4-year-olds are automatically eligible for free half-day preschool, and, in many cases, for free full-day preschool. Additionally, 3-year-olds who qualify via at least one factor, including household income, special needs and dual-language homes, among several other factors, will also be eligible for half-day preschool at MCSD’s Early Childhood Center on Texas Avenue.
“Registration for preschool beginning next fall looks different,” said Stephanie Davis, the director of the Early Childhood Center. “All preschool families, with a child who’s 3 years old before Aug. 31, or 4 years old, need to go on and register online. They submit an application to the state website.”
The website is UPK.Colorado.gov. The applications have been open since January. If you’d like assistance with the process or need a technology device to register on, please stop by the Early Childhood Center at 600 Texas Ave.
“They should be prepared to input or upload some information,” Davis said. “Once they’re determined eligible, the state will review all applications and release the names to the providers. Moffat County School District is a provider.”
Davis added that the half-day, 3 hours, 45 minutes, mandated by the state change will be half an hour longer than the half-day offering they’ve previously utilized. Three-year-olds are eligible for the half-day schedule, and 4-year-olds’ parents can choose between half- or full-day schedules. A full day is 7.5 hours.
“In the past, the Colorado preschool program provided scholarships for families that qualified with certain risking factors,” Davis said. “A 3-year-old had to meet three risking factors to be eligible for a half-day scholarship, and 4-year-olds qualified with one risking factor. Now, 3-year-olds only need to meet one factor, and 4-year-olds are automatically eligible for at least free half-day programs.”
Davis hopes that ECC will have more attendees next year as a result of the changes. This year, the school has about 160 students.
“We hope so, we’d really like to see 200 preschool-aged students in our building next year,” she said. “We hope to be able to provide more for our community.”
Davis said she and her staff would welcome the challenge of increasing capacity to manage more attendance thanks to the new law.
“We believe in early intervention and educational opportunities for 3- and 4-year-old students,” Davis said. “We know that there’s a lot of research that supports early intervention and early opportunities for schooling in age-appropriate developmental classrooms. We work hard to meet all the children where they’re at. However a child comes to us, we work hard as a preschool staff to meet the needs of all the children enrolled.”
The preschool is also holding a health fair April 6 and 7 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the school building at 600 Texas Avenue in Craig. Appointments can be made for developmental screening for children from birth to five years old by calling 970-824-7457. Walk-ins are accepted, but an appointment gives parents and guardians a chance to fill out paperwork in advance.
Davis said she’s excited for the opportunity to educate more Moffat County kids.
“I hope we have more families of three-year-olds thanks to this universal preschool,” she said. “In the past, there have been families with three-year-olds who haven’t met enough criteria for the scholarship who haven’t attended, and this provides more families opportunities for their kids to attend earlier.”
Come check us out and we can help you register.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.