A child’s earliest experiences greatly affect the way his or her brain develops. In the first years of life the brain is developing rapidly. More than 700 neural connections are being formed every second setting the stage for children to acquire skills like working memory, language development and self-control. The early years are the most effective time to invest in nurturing, quality learning experiences and promoting physical health to lay a strong foundation for later learning, achievement and adult productivity. When children and their families have access to quality early care and education, their long-term academic outcomes improve. The investments we make between birth and age 8 achieve some of the best financial and social returns, including healthier, happier children, a more educated population and, ultimately, a stronger and more stable economy for our state.
Where Colorado Stands
Three decades of national research show that quality early childhood care and education contributes to the development of cognitive skills, social-emotional skills and character skills including attentiveness, persistence, motivation, self-control and teamwork. We know that when children are ready for school before kindergarten, they are more likely to be successful students, read at grade level by the end of third grade and graduate from high school on time.
Unfortunately, among the 41 states with state-supported preschool programs, Colorado ranks 37th in spending, 22nd in access to preschool for 4-year-olds and 10th in access for 3-year-olds. Although Colorado’s state spending on preschool is low by comparison, the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) is an effective program that meets six out of 10 quality standards of the National Institute for Early Education and Research and consistently shows school readiness gains for Colorado’s most at-risk children. In fact, longitudinal data show children at risk of low achievement because of racism or low incomes who participate in the Colorado Preschool Program outperform their peers who did not participate in the program. This is true in every area of state assessment (reading, writing, math and science) through the ninth grade.
What the Children’s Campaign is Doing
Because quality early childhood experiences are critical to promoting healthy children and families, educational success and, ultimately, ending the cycle of poverty, the Children’s Campaign advocates strongly for expanded access to quality early childhood programs and continued improvements in program alignment and efficiency. Specifically, we are focused on the following policy priorities:
Investing in Kids
Adequate funding is paramount to increasing access to high-quality early childhood experiences and providing support to families. We have seen exciting trends over the course of the past decade or so in children’s fourth grade reading with more students reading at or above grade level. Between 2004 and 2014, Hispanic/Latino children made larger gains in fourth grade reading proficiency than any other racial or ethnic group.
We need to build on this momentum to ensure more children have access to the high quality early childhood experiences that set them on the path to school success.
For more information on early childhood development in Colorado, please contact the Children’s Campaign’s Vice President of Early Childhood Initiatives, Bill Jaeger, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720.552.0002.
Recent KidsFlash Articles
- Statement on early childhood discipline legislation
Statement from the Colorado Equity in Early Childhood Coalition on Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee vote against efforts to curb the use of suspensions and expulsions in public preschool and early elementary grades (HB 17-1210 – Lontine &Buckner/Priola & Fields) Students facing the most barriers to success need every chance to succeed—especially in the crucial early years.
- School Health Professional Grant 2017 Q&A Webinar
The Colorado Children’s Campaign was proud to join with numerous other partners in support of SB 17-068 [Todd/Singer] to allow elementary schools to participant existing grant programs that expand access to counselors, nurses, and other school health professionals. The bill has been sent to the Governor’s desk for signature and, starting in the 2017-18 school year, elementary schools will be able to utilize state grant funds to employ these professionals whereas before only secondary schools could participate. The Colorado Department of Education is hosting a Q&A webinar for the School Health Professional Grant for the coming year on Monday, April 17 from 1 p.m.