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Bill proposes creation of comprehensive early childhood education system

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Posted at 7:48 PM, May 05, 2021

SOUTHERN COLORADO — State leaders are taking a huge step to improve early childhood education in the state and provide more resources for families. They unveiled a bill Wednesday that would create the Colorado Department of Early Childhood to provide better access to high-quality, voluntary, and affordable early childhood opportunities.

"Your actions with this plan tells parents like me that you understand how challenging it is to raise a child now more than ever," said George Davis V.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to develop their full potential and we know that development starts very early on. As we power the Colorado comeback, we’re going to need every single Colorado mind — and that includes our youngest ones,” said Governor Jared Polis. This new agency is a strong step to streamline access and elevate the importance of the early years to help ensure that every family can access preschool and high-quality early learning and care.”

According to state leaders, Proposition EE and new federal funding targeted to child care have paved the way for this unique opportunity.

“As the father of two small children in early childhood and one on the way, I’m critically aware of the need to support children’s development in the early years,” said Speaker Garnett. “But for too many families, this is also the time when they have the least amount of support. Today we’re creating a forward-thinking framework to fund and organize our early childhood efforts. Colorado is putting kids and families first.”

“Last November voters overwhelmingly agreed to support universal access to high-quality preschool – demonstrating a real commitment to equitable child care in Colorado,” said Majority Leader Fenberg. “Elevating and streamlining our early childhood system is a top priority for our state, and we know that this is an investment that will not only set up our kids for success but pay dividends for years to come.”

The new state agency will coordinate the services, leverage access making it easier, reduce duplications, reduce fragmentations, and ensure funding is spent as intended. It will also rely on community input to develop the most effective plan to transition services into a comprehensive plan.

"This is the real opportunity to say state programs and investments need to built around the lived experiences of families," said Bill Jaeger, Vice President of Early Childhood Policies and Initiatives.

He says there is an equity issue when it comes to early childhood education.

"Families with means enroll their children at 80 and percent rates while families who struggle can't prioritize it at the same level," said Jaeger.

State leaders say there is still much work to be done with the new proposal such as determining funding distribution, amounts, and quality standards.

Under this legislation, the Governor would submit the community-informed transition plan to the Joint Budget Committee in November as part of his 2022 budget request, to be considered for further legislative action by the General Assembly in the 2022 session.