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Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) for Parents

From birth through age 5, your child is rapidly developing and learning from the world around them.

Give your child a strong start by enrolling them in one (or more!) of the many early education and child care options available based on your child’s age:

Early Education and Child Care Options

For Ages 0-3

For Ages 4-5*

*children not yet Kindergarten age eligible

Frequently Asked Questions about Transitional Kindergarten (TK)

What is TK?

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is the first year in a two-year kindergarten program. Designed especially for four-year-olds, it will help prepare children to succeed in school, while also giving them an opportunity to meet new friends and provide care while parents work. TK is offered through the public school system. Classes take place at neighborhood elementary schools and are free to all students regardless of income, like kindergarten. To learn about TK opportunities, contact your local school district.

When Can I Enroll My Child in TK?

Currently, children in California can enroll in kindergarten if they turn 5 on or before September 1st. Younger children born after that date will be eligible to enroll in TK. Enrollment eligibility will increase over a four-year period. The eligibility schedule is:

  • 2022-23: Kids who turn 5 between September 2nd and February 2nd can enroll
  • 2023-24: Kids who turn 5 between September 2nd and April 2nd can enroll
  • 2024-25: Kids who turn 5 between September 2nd and June 2nd can enroll
  • 2025-26: All kids who turn 4 by September 1st

How Do I Enroll My Child in TK?

For information on how to enroll your child in TK, contact your local school or district office. View a list of local schools and your school district.

Is TK Required?

No, like Kindergarten, TK is optional in California. Parents may choose to enroll their child if they think the program will benefit their child and family. Families who are involved in other state-funded preschool or child care programs, such as Head Start, California State Preschool Program (CSPP), and child care voucher recipients, will be able to choose if they wish to send their child to TK or keep their child in another subsidized program.

Are School Districts Required to Offer TK?

Yes, with some exceptions. All districts that receive state funding are required to offer TK. However, districts are not required to offer TK at every elementary school in their district. This means that the TK program in your district may not be at the elementary school that is closest to your home.

There are some districts in California, known as “basic aid districts,” that are not required to offer TK. The reason for this is that basic aid districts are funded solely through local rather than state funds and are not required to abide by the state mandate to provide TK. Most basic aid districts do offer TK, but some have chosen not to offer this service in favor of other spending. You can find a list of “basic aid” districts here.

How Many Children Are in a TK Class?

Starting in 2022, TK classes will have a maximum size of 24 children with two adults, for a 12:1 adult to child ratio. This ratio may be reduced further to 10:1 in 2023, if funding permits.

What Qualifications to TK Teachers Have?

TK teachers are highly prepared to help our youngest learners succeed! All TK classes must be staffed by at least one teacher who has both a multi subject teaching credential (required for elementary school teaching) along with a specialized teaching credential in early childhood education.

Is TK Half-Day or Full-Day?

Like Kindergarten, schools can choose to offer TK as a half-day (3 hour) program or as a full-day (6 hour) program. Contact your local school to learn about how TK is being offered in your district!

What Do Children Learn in TK?

TK is based on a developmentally appropriate, play-based curriculum that allows children to be active and have fun while learning important skills for reading, writing, mathematics, and social-emotional skills such as learning to listen to directions and take turns.

Early Learning and Care

Early learning and care has a unique role in providing UPK because they serve children from birth to preschool or school entry, as well as extended care to support school-age children with before- and after-school care, vacation schedules, and evening/weekend care.

Things to Consider When Making Your Choice

  • What is available for my child?
  • What options are best for me and my child?

Need Assistance Paying?

If you are needing assistance in paying for child care or to research other options, please call (888) 306-7627.