What is the Denver Preschool Program?

  • The Denver Preschool Program (DPP) helps make preschool possible for all Denver families—regardless of income—through tuition support and access to information.
  • In addition to serving as a liaison between parents and preschools, DPP works to improve preschool quality, studies how preschool affects kindergarten readiness, and is a national advocate for excellence in early childhood education.

Who funds DPP?

  • Approved by Denver voters in 2006 and reauthorized in 2014 to extend to 2026, DPP is funded by a .15 percent sales tax. Through the 2017-2018 program year, DPP has provided nearly $106 million in tuition support to help more than 50,000 children.

How does DPP use its funds?

  • Approximately 80 percent of DPP’s funding is distributed to Denver families in the form of tuition credits and to preschool providers for quality improvement measures.
  • DPP also dedicates a portion of its funds for community outreach to ensure local families of young children and preschools are aware of the program and its benefits. Furthermore, DPP uses its funds to conduct annual evaluations that analyze the outcomes of children who have participated in the program, as well as ensure DPP operations meet standards of excellence.
  • By ordinance, administrative costs are limited to 7 percent of sales tax revenue.

Who manages DPP?

  • The Denver Preschool Program, Inc. is an independent, non-profit organization created to operate the Denver Preschool Program under a contract with the City and County of Denver. The DPP Board of Directors provides oversight.

Where does the Denver Preschool Program operate?

  • The Denver Preschool Program only operates within the City and County of Denver.

Who can receive tuition support?

  • Tuition credits are available to families that live within the City and County of Denver and have a 4-year-old enrolled in a participating preschool program in the year before kindergarten.

How much tuition support can my family receive?

  • Monthly tuition support is available on a sliding scale. The amount of support a family receives is based on 1) the family’s income 2) the quality rating of the preschool and 3) the length of day the child attends.
  • Preschools are rated for quality on a scale from 1 to 5. Families with lower incomes who choose higher quality programs receive a greater amount of tuition support.

What is the average tuition credit a family receives?

  • During the 2017-2018 school year, the typical child received $617 per month in tuition support, was eligible for free lunch (tier 1 earning less than $23,850 per year for a family of 4), and attended a level 4 quality program for a full school day.
  • Nearly two-thirds of participating children live in families earning less than 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (under $44,862.50) for a family of four.

How do I sign up for tuition support?

  • Parents/caregivers can sign up for tuition support anytime after their child is enrolled in a participating preschool. Visit our Sign Up page for more information.

What do I need to complete a DPP application?

  • To complete the DPP application, you will need to provide proof of: 1) your child’s age 2) your current address within in the City and County of Denver and 3) monthly income. 

Do I have to submit an income verification form?

  • No. However, if you do not, you will automatically receive the lowest tuition credit for your household size and the quality rating of your chosen preschool.

What information do we collect?

  • Personal information in the application that is collected includes family contact information and address, proof of child’s age, child’s gender and family’s income.  We also collect information about the school the child is attending and the length of day they attend. We do not collect personal information such as social security numbers or citizenship status for any family member. 

How and when do we share student or family information?

  • We will never sell or rent personal information to third parties for their use. We may however use the information we collect for DPP purposes only. 

Does DPP ask for a child's or family's immigration status when he or she enrolls?

  • No. The Denver Preschool Program enrolls students regardless of their immigration status and without discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, national origin or religion. 

How will I receive my tuition credit?

  • DPP pays the preschool directly on the child’s behalf after the preschool submits its monthly attendance report. Please ask your preschool if it credits your account before or after it receives your tuition credit from DPP. Depending on the timing, you may pay in full and then receive a partial refund in the amount of your tuition credit, or you may pay the remaining balance after the tuition credit is deducted.

Will my tuition credit be the same each month?

Generally, however, the amount of your monthly DPP tuition credit can be lowered in any given month if one or more of the following
circumstances occurs:

  • You child is absent for 8 or more days.
  • Your child has excessive late drop-off or early pick-ups.
  • Your child enrolls in DPP after the start of the month.
  • Your child leaves DPP before the end of the month.

What happens to my tuition credit if my child switches schools?

  • When a child leaves a participating program for another, the tuition credits will follow. However, since tuition credits are partially determined by the preschool quality rating, if your child switches to a school with a lower or higher rating, or the school they currently attend is assigned a new rating, your tuition credit may change.

What happens to my tuition credit if I move outside of Denver?

  • If your family moves outside of the City and County of Denver, you can no longer receive tuition support.

Why should I enroll my child in preschool

  • Decades of research show that preschool promotes school success, leads to better jobs and even prevents crime. While the benefits appear to be greatest for children at-risk for school failure, preschool benefits all children regardless of their economic status.

What preschools participate in DPP?

  • DPP partners with more than 250 licensed, quality-rated preschool providers to improve the quality of early childhood education programs in Denver including child care homes, community-based centers, and Denver Public Schools locations.

Can I enroll my child in a preschool through DPP?

  • No. DPP is not a preschool program. Use our Find a Denver Preschool search tool to explore your options and contact the school directly to enroll.

Does DPP fund religious-based schools?

  • Yes. Qualified, faith-based providers agree to separate their religious instruction from their general curriculum so that tax dollars are not used to support religious instruction.

Does DPP fund Denver Public Schools preschool classrooms?

  • Yes. If you’d like to participate in the Denver Preschool Program at a Denver Public Schools (DPS) location, please complete the DPS parent application which is available on the DPS website or at your child's DPS school. The Denver Preschool Program application is included as part of the DPS application process.

What does a quality rating mean?

  • The Colorado Shines Quality Rating & Improvement System (QRIS) creates a path to quality improvement for providers. Licensed child care and early education providers are assessed in five areas, then given a composite score from 1 to 5 with 5 being the best. This score creates a foundation from which early childhood care and education providers can improve the quality of the services to better serve children and their families.

How does DPP improve preschool quality?

  • DPP provides financial support to its more than 250 licensed preschool partners to offset the cost of programming and obtaining state-approved quality ratings. Additionally, DPP offers early childhood educators access to professional development opportunities to help strengthen teacher-child interactions, which DPP believes play an important role in the academic and social-emotional development of children. Since 2007, DPP has invested over $12 million in quality ratings and quality improvements in Denver preschools.