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Universal PreKindergarten


UPK monterey logo


Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) is the expansion of the state’s mixed delivery system to meet the early education needs of 3- and 4-year-old children and their families, including Transitional Kindergarten which will be available for free to all 4-year olds by 2025-2026.

UPK is an essential part of transforming California’s schools and giving every student in California a great start.



Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) will bring together programs across early learning and K-12, relying heavily on Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) and California State Preschool Program (CSPP), as well as Head Start, community-based organizations (CBOs), licensed Family Child Care homes, and private preschool to ensure every four-year old child – regardless of background, race, zip code, immigration status, or income level – has access to a quality learning experience the year before kindergarten.

A transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. Pursuant to law, Ed. Code 48000[c] and Senate Bill 1381.

What UPK offers families

father, mother, and two young sons
  • 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

California's Universal Prekindergarten Implementation Timeline

UPK stands for Universal Prekindergarten, which, by 2025–26 will exist for all four-year-old children in California.

Universal transitional kindergarten (UTK) is part of UPK, but not the only part. UPK is a mixed delivery system that also includes the California State Preschool Program (CSPP) which the California Department of Education (CDE) operates, along with other prekindergarten programs serving three- and four-year-old children, including the federal Head Start Program, subsidized programs that operate a preschool learning experience and are operated by community-based organizations (CBOs)--including family childcare, and private preschool. Part of UPK is also the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P) that helps TK-6th grade, a full-day program aligned with the needs to parents.

two people walking to school


Student Phase-In
5th birthday between Sept. 2 and Feb. 2

(EC 48000)

school bus


Student Phase-In
5th birthday between Sept. 2 and Apr. 2

1:12 Teacher to Student Ratios



Student Phase-In
5th birthday between Sept. 2 and Jun. 2

1:10 Teacher to Student Ratios



Student Phase-In
4th birthday by Sept. 1

Monterey County UPK Community Magazine

Learn more about California's Universal PreKindergarten initiative and its impact in Monterey County with our community magazine.
The magazine can be viewed digitally and downloaded for printing. It is available in English and Spanish.

Click on the images below to view.


Information for families


Goals for UPK Implementation

Preschool through Third Grade (P-3) Alignment: Connecting the early grades for future success.

California Department of Education (CDE) seeks to elevate the role of high-quality, inclusive and multilingual preschool, strong early intervention services, and P-3 alignment in ensuring the future of California's children.

P-3, upk, tk

How Do TK, UPK and P-3 Alignment Work Together?

  • P-3 Connects UPK with Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade
  • Aligning developmentally informed best practices, UPK– 3rd grade.
  • UPK is a mixed-delivery system of UTK, CSPP, Head Start, private providers, and more
  • Provides every four-year old access to high quality learning the year before kindergarten
  • TK is an integral program in the mixed delivery system for achieving UPK
  • The only program that must serve any four-year old child that wants to enroll by 2025-26.

Watch Governor Newsom’s special video message about Transitional Kindergarten!

"California is making a big commitment and that’s making Transitional Kindergarten accessible and free to all 4 year old kids. That means every child can learn in a nurturing environment with small class sizes to give our young learners the attention they deserve. And when we’re finished with this expansion, California will have the single largest free preschool program in the country, serving nearly 400,000 children.” – Governor Gavin Newsom

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