Universal PreKindergarten

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UPK Universal PreKindergarten 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.
UPK brings more choices for preschool, including Transitional Kindergarten which will be available 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.

UPK is an important part of a statewide effort to provide whole-child support for children and families and transform California’s schools to be more community-focused and equitable. UPK implementation will look different across California’s many regions.

Partnerships with local tribal nations and community groups are necessary to build successful UPK programs.

UPK Informational Image

UPK brings together transitional kindergarten (TK) and all existing state preschools and federal early education (including California State Preschools (CSPP) and Head Start), private child care, and expanded learning opportunities including
before and after school programs into the same system.

UPK System image

UPK can serve as a bridge between early childhood and TK-12 systems to increase students' readiness for school and schools' readiness for students so that all children thrive in school and in life.

Early learning and TK-12 leaders can leverage their expertise to build a bridge and create a system that puts the needs of children and families first.
Building on the work that has already been done, leaders will need to work together to build trust, support effective transitions, engage and empower families, expand and support diverse and effective workforce pipeline, and align programs to meet child and family needs.

In the successful implementation of UPK, the key strategy involved leveraging collective efforts, merging funding opportunities, and aligning programs to provide effective options for students and their families.

UPK Decorative Image

What is P-3?

Preschool through 3rd grade (P-3) is a continuum of learning that can be supported by intentional practices at the classroom, school, and leadership levels that align curricula, assessment, and professional learning opportunities to ensure instruction builds on the knowledge and skills that children acquire as they transition across grades and settings.

Why is P-3 Important?

According to First Things First (2021), “90% of brain growth happens before kindergarten. At birth, the average baby’s brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain. Incredibly, it doubles in size in the first year. It keeps growing to about 80% of adult size by age 3 and 90% — nearly full grown — by age 5.”

Research shows that children are more successful in school and beyond if they are given a strong foundation in the earliest years of their lives. In addition, high quality teaching and learning programs can support  brain development. The state of California is on the forefront of this change dedicating billions of dollars to plan and equip our school buildings with quality teachers and facilities in order to support our youngest learners in equitable ways. Thus, providing students with learning opportunities that will support and guide them as they enter successfully into  the K-12 arena. 

Preschool through Third Grade (P-3) Alignment (California Department of Education)

P-3 CDE Alignment Button


Transitional Kindergarten (TK): The first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum which is developmentally- and age-appropriate. (EC 4800 (d) (e))

Universal PreKindergarten (UPK): The continuum of high-quality programs, including TK, state preschool, Head Start, general childcare, and community-based early learning and care providers, that can be layered and wrapped to create rich early learning opportunities for all children during the year before kindergarten, regardless of income. 

Expanded Learning / Extended Care: Child care services provided in addition to the normal school day or school year operations. It provides full-day or full-year child care to meet the needs of working families whose children are enrolled in TK or kindergarten. A full day is defined as nine or more hours. A full year includes a minimum 30 days of programming in the summer. 

Preschool through 3rd Grade (P-3): A continuum of learning that can be supported by intentional practices at the classroom, school, and leadership levels that align curricula, assessment, and professional learning opportunities to ensure instruction builds on the knowledge and skills that children acquire as they transition across grades and settings. 

P-3 Alignment: Both horizontal and vertical alignment and coherence across grades and systems to improve coordination of policies and practices in preschool, across transitions to TK and kindergarten, and through 3rd grade and beyond. The CDE’s P-3 alignment efforts stem from a belief that gaps in children’s opportunities and learning outcomes demand system-level reform at the state, county, district, school, and community levels to disrupt inequities, address bias, and promote equitable opportunity. Successful P-3 alignment requires cross-sector work, joint administrator and teacher professional learning opportunities, aligned instructional tools and learning environments, data-driven decision-making, engaged families, and continuity of pathways (CDE, 2021).

CA UPK Two-pager_ Key information for families (TK Focus)
CA UPK Two-pager_ Key information for families (TK Focus) Spanish Version

TK Timeline and Implementation

TK Timeline and Implementation

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.

Little Girls hugging

Transitional Kindergarten

Transitional kindergarten (TK) is a special program designed for students who turn 5 in the fall – and are not quite old enough to enroll in traditional kindergarten. A child is eligible for TK if they have their 5th birthday between September 2 and December 2 (inclusive).

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) will soon be available to all 4-year-olds in California.

TK is designed as the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. A child who completes one year in a TK program, may continue in a kindergarten program for one additional year. Each elementary or unified school district must offer TK classes for all children eligible to attend.

Parents who are interested in this opportunity for their eligible children may contact their local school or district for TK information specific to their location.

Find enrollment information on the link buttons below:

Additional TK Information and Resources

Universal PreKindergarten and Transitional KindergartenWebsite Button

Universal PreKindergarten FAQs Button
TKCalifornia Website Button
Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Guide Button
TK Professional Resource Guide for Administrators Button
TK Parent Engagement Toolkit Button
TK Chapter: Mathematics Framework (CDE) Button
TK to Grade 1 Chapter: ELA/ELD Framework (CDE) Button
Preschool Learning Foundations (CDE) Button
TK- TeacherRequirementsCDE FAQs Button
SDCOE TK Online Professional Learning Modules Button
Quick Guide from EdSource Button
ECEP Resources Button

UPK Upcoming Events

May 2024

UPK Network Flyer

Contact Information

Vivian Yacopi Profile Picture

Vivian Yacopi
Universal Pre-K Advisor

Veronica Cervantes Profile Picture

Veronica Cervantes

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Rocio Obeso
Clerical Assistant II
(760) 312-6571