Each week of the 2017 session of the Colorado General Assembly we’ll bring you the latest news and analysis of legislation impacting the early development, health and education of Colorado kids. Click here for a full list of the legislation we’re tracking. Here are some highlights from this week:
HB 17-1160 (Hamner & Wilson/Priola & Fields) Kindergarten Through Third Grade English Learner Reading Assessment Language
This bill allows school districts or charter schools to decide if they want to administer reading assessments to English language learner students in kindergarten through third grade in English or in a student’s native language. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee on Monday, Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 0112. Read more about the bill and why the Children’s Campaign strongly supports it here.
HB 17-1002 (Pettersen & Exum/Kefalas) Renewing the Child Care Tax Credit for Low Income Families
Many working families in our state who struggle to get by on low wages aren’t getting the full benefit of a common-sense tax break. That’s because federal government put overly tight limits on the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Colorado changed those limits so that all people, even those with the lowest incomes, who work hard can keep more of what they make to pay for safe and reliable child care. HB 17-1002 continues, for another 3 years, the Colorado Child Care Tax Credit for families who earn too little to qualify for the Federal Child and Dependent Care Credit or the Colorado Child Care Tax Credit. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance Committee on Monday, Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. in LSB-A. Learn more about the bill and why the Children’s Campaign strongly supports it here.
SB 17-123 (Zenzinger & Priola/Wilson & Hamner) Seal of Biliteracy for High School Diplomas
This bill allows a high school to grant a diploma endorsement in biliteracy to a student who demonstrates proficiency in English and at least one foreign language. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee on Monday, Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 0112. Read more about the bill and why the Children’s Campaign supports it here.
Federal financing for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) in Colorado, expires on September 30, 2017. It is essential that this federal funding be allowed to continue. CHP+ is an important source of health coverage for kids and pregnant women from moderate-income families in Colorado, but it is only successful because it rests on the shoulders of the Medicaid program. Therefore, it is essential that the federal funding structure for both programs continue without interruption. Use this fact sheet to share information about this critical coverage.
A new resource is now available to help funders, policymakers, advocates and early care and education providers better understand where quality, licensed early care and education resources are located relative to where young children live. The Early Care and Education Map, which was developed by Shift Research Lab, leverages neighborhood-level data from Denver’s seven-county metro region to help illustrate the existing landscape of early care and education providers.
Shift Research Lab, which provides free data and analysis to help drive community change, created the ECE Map to inform decision-making related to public and private sector investment, provider expansion, spending of quality improvement dollars, and identifying where additional subsidies are needed. The tool uses data to better understand how far parents travel when choosing an early childhood option, ultimately helping to identify which communities have a shortage of care, which communities lack high-quality care, and if there is enough care in communities where vulnerable children live. Because parents’ ECE choices are based on factors that can’t be accounted for, such as choosing an ECE that’s close to work, and enrollment data isn’t reported to a centralized authority, Shift Research Lab took a creative approach to calculating accessibility that analyzed travel patterns to ECEs.
Shifts sees the potential for this tool to serve as a more comprehensive early care and education data resource, and it looks forward to partnering with the early care and education community on its continued expansion, including adding additional data as it becomes available and potentially expanding its geographic reach to the rest of the state.
To learn more, visit the ECE Map website, and sign up for Shift’s newsletter to receive updates on the tool.
As a member of the Development Team for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Jessica is responsible for securing funds through grant writing and research. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in July 2016, Jessica worked for a nonprofit youth mentoring and gang intervention/prevention agency. She has over a decade of nonprofit experience starting as an AmeriCorps VISTA and working her way up to Development Director. Jessica is passionate about writing grants, raising money and advocating for children. Jessica earned a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and a Master’s degree in nonprofit Management from Regis University. Read about Jessica’s favorite children’s book on our website.
The Colorado Department of Education is seeking community members to advise the review and revision of the Colorado Academic Standards. Diverse stakeholders are needed to serve as committee members in each of 10 content areas, English language proficiency, personal financial literacy, and computer science. The final revision recommendations will go to the Colorado State Board of Education.
The Colorado Academic Standards review and revision process will occur between now and July of 2018. More information about the process and the committee application is found here, with the committee application here. Apply before March 15!
This Sunday’s edition of The Denver Post’s Perspective section will be dedicated to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which was adopted by Colorado voters 25 years ago. The Post is asking for your opinion on how well TABOR is (or is not) serving Colorado and how the law could be changed or improved. If you have thoughts, send them to the Post (in less than 150 words) at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “TABOR.”
In the 2016-2017 school year, about 14 percent of all Colorado students (more than 129,000 children) were English Language Learners (ELLs). The number of ELL students in Colorado has more than doubled since the 2000-2001 school year. Research shows it takes an ELL student an average of four to seven years to develop academic proficiency in English. Colorado allocates additional funding for up to five years to support ELL students. To view trends in ELL enrollment over time in your county, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.
Summary: This bill reduces the burden on our child care educators and providers by requiring only one set of background checks if the educator works for multiple sites governed by a single entity (e.g., a school district or multi-site child care provider).
Position: The Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill as a way to streamline the background check process for licensed child care teachers while maintaining high standards for the safety of children in child care settings.
Current Status: Passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate, where it was assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Summary: The bill ensures all public school students receive access to the same basic level of funding by requiring school districts to distribute locally raised tax dollars equally, on a per-student basis, to the school district’s charter schools.
Position: The Colorado Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill. Charter schools are public schools, yet in many districts in Colorado, charter students receive a smaller portion of funding than students in other schools. Tax revenue collected from all taxpayers in a school district should benefit all public school students in that district and be distributed on an equitable basis, regardless of school type.
Current Status: The Senate referred the bill as amended on second reading to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the bill is scheduled to be heard in Appropriations on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 8:40 a.m. in Room 357.
Summary: This bill directs the State Board of Education to incorporate skills relating to information and communications technologies into the 10 content areas during the upcoming state academic standards review. The bill defines “computer science education” and directs CDE to create a publicly available resource bank of materials pertaining to computer science programs and a grant program for teachers of computer science courses.
Position: The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports this bill because it responds to demands for technology and computer science skills in today’s public schools. Information technology is a fast-growing career cluster in Colorado, but students lack exposure to technology and computer science training, and an access gap in these courses has led to race and gender underrepresentation in STEM training and careers. Academic standards provide a guide for schools and teachers in specific content areas, and the bill provides guidance for integrating skills that lead to jobs for the 21st century into our current standards
Current Status: Scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee on Monday, Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 0112