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Every Child Deserves a Great Start

Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) brings more flexible, high-quality early learning choices for your 3- and 4-year-olds that meet your families’ childcare needs. All families in California–regardless of immigration & income status–are eligible to participate.

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Your child's journey to Kindergarten is up to you

Choose the best options that meet your cultual, family, and life needs

What UPK offers families

  • All families in California–regardless of immigration & income status–are eligible to participate depending on your child’s age and the program you select

  • Transitional Kindergarten (TK) will be available to all 4-year-old children for free

  • More flexible, high-quality early education choices for their 3- and 4-year-olds that address families' childcare needs*

  • The opportunity to give input to make sure local UPK programs reflect your family’s and community’s needs and culture

  • Schools that are ready to support your child's learning

  • Assurance that your child is entering school equipped with the tools that will help them succeed

Preschool Choices Available for 3-5 Year Olds

Families can choose from a variety of preschool programs for their young children. Here’s a breakdown of some of those choices:

UPK Table of Options

Things to Consider in Your Decision: Logistics

When you are deciding on the best preschool option for your child, here are some of the logistical things to consider:

  • Is it full-day or part-day?

  • If it’s part-day, who will care for your child during the remainder of the day?

    • Are there other programs available (like a before and after school program or another childcare program) to care for your child or will you or a family member be available?

  • Do they offer transportation?

  • What is the cost of the program?

  • Is your child eligible?

Things to Consider in Your Decision: Cultural and Personal Choices

When you are deciding on the best preschool option for your child, here are things to consider based on your families cultural and personal needs:

  • Is the classroom accessible? Do they have teachers who know how to work with children with disabilities?

  • Do they have teachers who speak the same language you speak at home?

  • Can your child see themselves represented in their teachers? Do they have teachers or staff who look like your family? 

  • What kind of resources are they providing to families? 

  • Are there family engagement opportunities or do they offer family leadership involvement?

What your child should experience in a UPK program

Regardless of the UPK program your family chooses, your child should experience an environment where:

  • Children of all abilities are supported and welcomed

  • Each child’s culture, race, identity, and language is respected

  • Educators are ready to support dual language learners and encourage children to use their home language in the classroom

  • Children are provided joyful learning that sparks their curiosity and sense of belonging

  • Play-based learning activities are used to build the skills they need to succeed in TK–3rd Grade subjects

Supportive and welcoming environments for all children

California is working to make sure that all UPK classrooms will support children of all abilities, skill levels, and backgrounds by:

  • Reserving spots in preschool classrooms specifically for children with disabilities, including 10% of all CA State Preschool spots by 2025

  • Teaching educators about managing normal behavior in young children and how to include children of all abilities in activities

  • Helping educators give children different ways to show what they’ve learned so they can build on their skills

  • Ensuring all educators know how to support dual language learners and encourage students to use their home language in the classroom

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