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More than 6,000 Utah children could be using free, at-home preschool prep software next year after Utah lawmakers set aside $1 million last week to expand the program.

Lawmakers invested last year in a five-year run for the computer-based Upstart education program. The most recent cash infusion opens the program up for an additional 1,000 students, starting with the 2015-2016 school year.

Upstart, developed by the Waterford Institute, provides at-home lessons in reading, math and science. It is offered free to Utah families due to a combination of state and federal funding.

"The time to enroll in pre-K programs is now," Benjamin Heuston, president of Waterford Institute, said in a prepared statement. "Often parents wait until August to start thinking about preschool. Parents need to enroll now so they don't lose a spot."

The Upstart program prioritizes low-income families and students learning English as a second language, according to Waterford, and families can qualify for the use of a free computer and free Internet service while their children are enrolled.

Waterford started receiving state funding for the program in 2008 and, according to the institute, 13,000 Utah children have enrolled in Upstart over the past six years.

Families can pre-register for Upstart at or by phone at 800-669-4533 for the upcoming program year, which starts this summer.