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
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.
5th birthday between Sept. 2 and Feb. 2
5th birthday between Sept. 2 and Apr. 2
1:12 Teacher to Student Ratios
5th birthday between Sept. 2 and Jun. 2
1:10 Teacher to Student Ratios
4th birthday by Sept. 1
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.
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.
Monterey County UPK branding logo- For all Monterey County UPK Stakeholders
California Department of Education's UPK FAQs