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Denver Preschool Program expands into summer months

By James Mejia

There are a lot of people who don’t get much of a summer break – namely most working parents and children who are in early childhood education (ECE) programs. While the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) can’t help give vacation to hard working parents, they can provide financial help to make sure ECE students are provided enriching programs during summer months, thanks to an expansion of the Denver tax.

DPP was first implemented in 2006 after it narrowly won passage in a 2005 tax election. The program was designed to sunset in 2016 after a 10-year trial period. The program was so successful that not only was the original .12 percent tax continued, it was expanded to .15 percent sales tax in a November 2014 Denver election. Success of DPP is due to the substantial reach of the program and metrics demonstrating improved educational outcomes for 4-year olds completing a DPP funded program. One of the primary goals of the expansion was to serve children during the crucial summer months.

Serving Over 70 percent of Denver 4-Year-Olds

In three short years, the Denver Preschool Program grew to become the third-most subscribed preschool program in the nation after only the states of Georgia and Oklahoma. By the 5th year of operation, DPP served over 70 percent of all Denver 4-year olds.

DPP Grads Make Academic Progress

Documented results for students completing DPP financed programs have led to public support for the program. The first report of 3rd graders who graduated from a DPP financed program revealed that 90 percent of students were prepared for kindergarten based on literacy tests.

More recent follow-up studies confirm that children with Denver Preschool Program experience show better literacy and math skills than their peers in public school. “Not only are children better prepared academically, most rate high for factors to lifelong success such as initiative and self-control,” notes Jennifer Landrum, DPP’s President and CEO. “Our teams of preschool providers located in every neighborhood across the city are highly committed to giving Denver’s children a smart start to kindergarten and a great start to life”.

DPP Innovation and Quality

DPP has also inspired confidence among the Denver electorate given a few key innovative measures that set the standard for ECE programs across the country.

DPP has integrated faith-based programs, financing only the secular portion of the curriculum. Parameters were established in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union and other partners to ensure that tax dollars did not fund religious programs.

All participating programs are required to be rated for quality in order to take part in DPP. As incentive to improve, the higher the rating a program earns, the more financing from DPP families are provided to attend. All ratings are conducted by the Denver not for profit, Qualistar, which also provides program training.

The amount of resources provided families is determined on a sliding scale according to family income. Importantly, all Denver families with a 4-year old in a participating program, regardless of income, are provided some financial benefit.

Besides academic benefit, social and emotional development has been critical to student success. According to Denver mother Jaira Lopez, her four-year old son Edgar, “…began to recognize his feelings and became able to calm himself down when he needed to. And, my once shy little boy was now outgoing and eager to make new friends”.

The Lowry Mile High Montessori student has had a whole new world of letters, colors and numbers opened up for him. “Edgar suddenly became aware of his surroundings and he began to continually ask ‘why’ about everything. He now wants to know how things work,” Jaira, said.

“If you have the opportunity to send your child to preschool, you should go for it!” advises Jaira Lopez. “It helps your child so much”. To find out how to enroll your child in a quality preschool and the tuition funding available for your family, visit or call 303-595-4DPP.





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