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  • Dawn Alexander

ECEA Child Care Updates 7/20/23



 


CDEC Changes Department Policy for UPK and Will Pay for Enrollments NOT Slots in August.

  • Programs and stakeholders were told repeatedly over the past year that all UPK providers would be paid for SLOTS not based on enrollment. This was to support your ability to hire staff and handle late enrollments.

See this terrific explanation by Michael Cooke from the

Governors office at the January Rules Advisory Council

(RAC) meeting. Timestamp 1 hour 26 minutes:

Note: There was never a correction at RAC, indicating that this stated policy was inaccurate.


LCO FAQ--December 8, 2022

Current LCO Information






Program Service Agreement- Original


Program Service Agreement- Current


UPK FAQ's February14, 2023


Now CDEC is stating that UPK payments in August will be based on enrollments and that it was never the policy to pay programs based on slots. Please note that we are only showing LCO information from a couple of LCO's because it helps to articulate that the messaging HAS been slots not enrollments. Slots WAS the policy, regardless of what the UPK Division of CDEC claims now.


Unfortunately, while that was the written and stated policy of the Division, the legal contracts that CDEC had providers sign stated that the basis would be enrollment and rates. So, in effect, the policy of CDEC HAS been to only pay based on enrollments. All of the talking and other documentation pointed everyone to one set of guarantees, while the legal document that you signed restricted you to the policy they intended to implement.


Legal UPK Contract

"Quarterly award amounts will be determined using appropriate provider rates and

enrollment data in the Application Portal."


1) We Know that quarterly rates have been changed and will now be monthly payments because that change was stated very clearly and posted on the UPK website, although FAQ documents still need to be updated to include this shift.

2) The shift away from slots was a passing comment with a clarification in an email and reinforced at a meeting with the state. It has not been a clearly stated policy statewide and providers are shocked by the shift. This policy shift undermines public trust as this shift directly negatively impacts programs abilities to staff for the influx of families that the department states that they anticipate.


Our Recommendations:

1) We ask CDEC to honor the policy that they maintained for the majority of the past year. If they are financially unable to do so then they should simply state that the shift in policy is taking place and that financially there are no other options. The messaging should not be, "The policy was never slots." Businesses do not want to negatively impact the 30 hour slots for families. They just want to be able to have a stable start in their UPK offerings.


2) Recognize that the hold harmless clause in statute does not benefit the majority of community based programs that were expecting to be compensated based off of slots.


3) ECEA understands that some businesses will be unable to enroll families at the last minute for preschool. We recommend that programs start children from the 4th round beginning in September and NOT in August. Specifically, when it necessitates a staffing change or adjustment. We are not making this recommendation lightly and do not want programs to lose out on any funding for partial months. We do need every program to be able to make staff adjustments without throwing their program into chaos. This will also ensure that all ratios are stable and the safety of all children is ensured.


4) School districts may staff according to their space and anticipated enrollment. Community based programs have no historical context for this degree of trust and cannot allow UPK to undermine their businesses. The ever shifting UPK policies are making it difficult for programs to trust any messaging that comes out of CDEC. Programs must operate from a protective stance so that the messaging shifts do not undermine their business.

 

Subject: Colorado UPK- Additional Hours Child Eligibility Updates Reply-To: cdec_upkcolorado@state.co.us Dear Universal Preschool Colorado Providers, Thank you again for participating in the first year of Universal Preschool Colorado. We are excited to get to the point where payments are coming! To date, nearly 29,000 families are participating in Universal Preschool Colorado, of which 50% had at least one qualifying factor. Based on these enrollment numbers as well as our financial projections, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) is pleased to offer full-day funding of up to 30 hours to families that meet the low income plus one additional qualifying factor criteria. CDEC also plans to offer full-day funding of up to 30 hours to families who enroll on a rolling basis and meet those criteria, although we will regularly assess our financial performance to ensure we do not overdraw from our appropriation. The State has also budgeted to guarantee up to 30 hours of funding for families that meet the low income factor and have an IEP, regardless of when they enroll during the year. While all participating students are still guaranteed up to 15 hours of funding, due to the large number of enrollees, CDEC does not have enough funding to provide families with only one qualifying factor full-day preschool funding in the 2023-24 school year. For background, we have prioritized funding in this way in accordance with Colorado State law, which mandates that if there are more families with qualifying factors than available funding, CDEC must first fund additional hours for families who indicated low income plus one additional qualifying factor. If you participate in the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), please connect with your authorized families and have them contact a county CCCAP worker to determine if their CCCAP care schedule needs to be updated. If you are a Head Start grantee, part-time and half-day Universal Preschool rates will apply as first in. If you provide full-day or extended day programs, those hours would then be funded through Head Start funds assuring integrity of both funds. For students with a qualifying factor of IEP:

  • If a student meets the low income factor and has an IEP, the child is eligible for part-time or half-day funding that other students receive in your program and additional hours of care that add up to a full-day program (up to 30 hours). They can take advantage of that eligibility for funding if a full-day program is available in a location where the IEP can be implemented.

  • If a student does not meet the low income factor, but has an IEP, the student is eligible for part-time or half-day funding consistent with what non-disabled students in your program receive. However, if the student’s IEP requires more than 15 hours to ensure a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), the administrative unit can work with the family to place the student in a full-day program and the state will fund the student up to 30 hours/week.

Next steps:

  • All families who attested to a qualifying factor will be notified of their award on July 18.

  • Families with income plus one other qualifying factor who are enrolled in a full-day program will be highlighted in the BridgeCare system and noted on your payment statement.

  • Families with income plus one other qualifying factor (but not an IEP) who are currently enrolled with you in a part-time or half-day program have been guided to connect with you to find out if you can provide them with full-day programming.

    • If you have a full-day program with availability, please let them and your LCO know in order to transfer. The LCO will unlock the application so the family can make the change in BridgeCare.

    • If you do not have a full-day program or availability please let the family know. Families may then consider other providers who have full-day openings.

  • Families with only one qualifying factor that were not awarded additional funding may currently be enrolled in a full-day program but because they were not awarded additional funding, may need to switch to a half-day program.

    • If you have a part-time or half-day program with availability, please let them and your LCO know in order to transfer.

    • If you do not have a part-time or half-day program or availability, please let the family know. Families may then consider other providers who have part-time or half-day openings.

  • Families with a student with an IEP who wish to make a placement change have been instructed to reach out to the special education director for their district or administrative unit. If the district/administrative unit can make a change to another placement that aligns with the student’s IEP, the district/administrative unit can reach out directly to Angie Delin’s team at angela.delin@state.co.us to make the change in BridgeCare. The family will not need to modify the application in BridgeCare.

  • If the family needs to withdraw their application or needs support identifying other forms of tuition assistance, please contact the LCO for support.

CDEC will continue to monitor Universal Preschool Colorado participation and available funding to best serve all eligible children throughout the program year. Stay connected to announcements at the Universal Preschool website. Thank you, Universal Preschool Colorado



 

UPK Parent Notification of 15 Hours Only


The state sent out letters to families to notify them of the hours that they qualify for. This is what one looks like. Ask your families to forward them to you if it's helpful.


Subject: UPK Eligibility Determination Reply-To: UPK Colorado <cdec_upkcolorado@state.co.us>
 Dear Universal Preschool Colorado Families, Thank you again for participating in the first year of Universal Preschool Colorado. We are thrilled to offer families all across the state an opportunity to save at least an average of $6,000 a year to receive high-quality preschool services. Due to limited funding, not everyone who wants free full-day preschool can get it. While at this time, there is not enough funding to provide you with a free full-day of preschool, this in no way impacts your placement or the half-day funding (up to 15 hours/week) you will receive. If you are happy with your placement, no action is needed from you at this time. You may still choose to attend a full-day program by paying the remaining balance yourself or by utilizing other funding sources you may qualify for, such as the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) or Head Start as noted below. If you are placed in a full-day program and want to change to a part-time or half-day program, please follow these steps:
  • Contact your Universal Preschool provider to see if they offer and have space in a part-time or half-day program.

  • If they do, contact your Local Coordinating Organization (LCO) to request a new program with the provider.

  • If your UPK provider does not offer or have space in a part-time or half-day program, contact your LCO to help you find a new program.

If your family participates in CCCAP, please connect with your provider and county CCCAP worker to determine if your CCCAP care schedule needs to be updated. For families who qualify and are participating in a Head Start funded program, part-time and half-day Universal Preschool rates will apply. Families participating in full-day programs will then be funded through Head Start funds. Stay connected to announcements at the Universal Preschool Colorado website. Thank you, Universal Preschool Colorado


 
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Employers and Third Party Administrators,

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