45 organizations encourage Gov. Polis and agency heads to prioritize the needs of kids and families in Colorado’s COVID response

Written by: Leslie Colwell
Date Posted: September 18, 2020

This week, the Children’s Campaign was joined by 44 organizations working across the issues of health, education, housing and early childhood to ask Gov. Polis and the heads of the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE), the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to take stronger action to address the social, educational and economic well-being of kids and their families in the state’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.   

“We are at an inflection point,” the letter states. “The trendlines in community spread create an opening to advance strategies that support children and families. As the school year begins, families are having to make impossible choices between the education and care of their kids and meeting basic needs. We urge policymakers to implement strategies that suppress community transmission, address the gaps in access to opportunity, avert a worsening education crisis, and help local leaders and working parents manage these massive challenges.” 

To accelerate the state’s support of children and families, the letter urges our state leaders to:  

  1. Implement clear metrics for reopening that prioritize school and child care access for all children, with special attention to those who face the greatest barriers to opportunity; 
  2. Continue the momentum toward ensuring equitable learning access for all preK-12 students; 
  3. Ease the burdens on parents in navigating the need for child care; and  
  4. Ensure the basic needs of children and families are met and that children, and those educating and caring for them, have everything they need to be safe and healthy regardless of setting.  

Specific recommendations include prioritizing opening schools and child care settings above businesses that could contribute to community spread, closing gaps in access to devices and internet connectivity among students, setting baseline expectations for quality remote learning, elevating examples of schools and districts that have been able to provide safe in-person learning options for kids, reforming child care assistance payment approaches to support the provision of school-age and early childhood care, ensuring adults who care for multiple children are background-checked, making sure children and their families have secure housing and access to food, and providing masks for all child care and P-12 employees with student contact for the duration of the pandemic. 

Chalkbeat reported on the contents of the letter and posted a copy of it here. 

Leslie Colwell

About Leslie Colwell

Leslie Colwell serves as the Vice President of K-12 Education Initiatives, leading the Campaign’s work to improve education in the state of Colorado. Before joining the Children’s Campaign in August of 2014, Leslie worked to facilitate partnerships and produce policy agreements, especially in the area of education as an Associate at The Keystone Center. Her professional experience includes working as Legislative Director for State Senator Mike Johnston, managing his education policy portfolio (including his office’s work on HB12-1238, Colorado’s READ Act, and SB13-033, ASSET), and directing a policy fellowship for educators for three summers. Leslie has also worked on Teach For America’s alumni team, and before that taught 6th grade Math and Earth Science as a TFA corps member at Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles. She currently serves on the board of the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) and on the steering committee of the Colorado Afterschool Partnership.