2022 Legislative Session
The Colorado Children’s Campaign serves as the leading voice for kids at the state Capitol and in communities across Colorado. In our over 35-year history, we have worked with policymakers from every corner of the state and every political perspective to improve the well-being of Colorado kids. Children’s issues aren’t partisan, and our successes have proven that we can develop innovative solutions when we work together.
In the 2022 legislative session, legislators and advocates worked to advance policy solutions and restructure systems that the pandemic has further exposed as inequitable and inaccessible. As Colorado families navigate this recovery, many of our priority bills have focused on best facilitating that recovery to their benefit – with bipartisan support along the way. In the midst of these successes, we continue to recognize the work that still remains in realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. Below are some of the bills we championed and supported in the 2022 legislative session.
Child Health Priorities
- Family & Child Health Coverage Improvements: Health insurance coverage during pregnancy and childhood can help reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve long-term educational outcomes. Expanding health insurance coverage is a growing priority for immigrant communities across the state. Colorado has an opportunity to expand comprehensive health insurance coverage to undocumented pregnant and postpartum people and children and to protect undocumented Coloradans from high-cost sharing in private plans. Doing so would draw down millions in federal funds and allow us to improve the health care system for all Colorado families.
- Behavioral & Social-Emotional Well-Being: The School Health Professional Grant Program provides funding for schools to increase the number of health professionals and support the behavioral health of all students. However, every year, the Colorado Department of Education receives more requests for funding than it can fulfill. Increased funding would allow CDE to approve additional applications, allowing more schools and districts to provide behavioral health supports for students. Additionally, the state should support comprehensive suicide prevention strategies for students.
K-12 Education Priorities
- Equitable & Student-Centered Funding for Schools: Modernizing and improving how our schools and students are resourced is the first and most fundamental step to removing structural barriers to opportunity and improving student outcomes. Colorado has an opportunity to update the way we define and provide adequate resources to students experiencing economic disadvantage. In addition, the state can play a role in supporting low property wealth districts that struggle to raise revenue via mill levy overrides – a growing source of funding inequity between districts.
- Supportive School Climates: Schools are centers for academic development and well-being. Research indicates that students are better able to learn when they feel safe and supported by peers and adults. The term “school climate” encompasses essential indicators of student and staff health, safety, and achievement that can be better defined and measured. Additionally, policies and devoted resources can ensure that every student learns in a positive, safe, and inclusive environment.
Early Childhood Priorities
- Unified Early Childhood System & Universal Pre-K Implementation: Building on the successes of Proposition EE and House Bill 21-1304 which called for a robust, community-informed transition process to establish a new state agency focused on early childhood, Colorado is ready to consolidate its various early childhood programs currently scattered across state agencies into the new Colorado Department of Early Childhood. In addition, Colorado will establish a single, voluntary universal preschool program that will ease the burdens currently placed on both parents and providers, and uplift parent choice of provider through a robust mixed-delivery system.
- Educator Tax Credit for Recruitment, Retention, & Compensation: Colorado’s recovery from the pandemic and economic downturn hinges on ensuring parents can return to work. Access to child care is a necessary work support and child development investment, but disruptions in care arrangements harm workforce participation, especially among women and people of color. Many providers are struggling to keep their doors open and, sadly, many have closed their doors permanently at a time when access to child care is more important than ever. Funding Colorado’s Early Childhood Educator Tax Credit encourages early childhood professionals to improve their skills as educators, improves compensation of the early childhood workforce, and increases access to child care for families.
- Cover All Coloradans: HB22-1289 (Gonzales-Gutierrez & McCluskie/Moreno & Fields): provides comprehensive public health insurance coverage to children, pregnant and postpartum undocumented Coloradans, and makes several other critical investments in perinatal care in Colorado. The bill makes a number of improvements to the Colorado health care system by strengthening the coverage available through the Health Insurance Affordability Enterprise, codifying CDPHE’s Health eMoms survey, eliminating CHP+ premiums, and making breast pumps a covered benefit for people using Medicaid and CHP+.
- Behavioral Health Care Services for Children: SB22-147 (Kolker & Sonnenberg/Young & Pelton): provides funding for schools to increase the number of health professionals, allowing more schools and districts to provide behavioral health services for all students.
- Protecting Quality in Medicaid Perinatal Programs: HB22-1329 (McCluskie/Hansen): protects the quality prenatal and postpartum care in Colorado’s Medicaid program and provides funding for stakeholder engagement, including through the Maternity Advisory Council. In order to help drive Medicaid policy changes, this council is made up of individuals who have received perinatal services through Medicaid.
- Supportive Schools for K-12 Students: HB22-1376 (Herod & Young/Priola & Winter): updates Colorado’s policies, practices and data frameworks to make data about students’ experiences at school more transparent and accessible, end discipline practices that have been shown to harm students, and ensure that every student learns in an environment that is positive, safe and inclusive.
- School Finance Student Poverty Measure: HB22-1202 (Herod & McCluskie/Zenzinger & Coleman): establishes a process for creating a new measure to identify students at risk of poor academic outcomes due to economic disadvantage. This will shift Colorado away from relying on the submission of free and reduced-price lunch eligibility forms as the state’s only proxy for poverty, and allow the state’s school funding formula to more accurately and adequately allocate resources to serve students.
- State Match for Mill Levy Override: SB22-202 (Zenzinger & Rankin/McCluskie): makes a targeted state investment in low-wealth school districts that constantly struggle for adequate funding to meet student needs. The bill creates a Mill Levy Override Match Fund, which will recognize local, voter-approved property tax investments and meet that effort with a state match on a sliding scale.
- Department of Early Childhood and Universal Preschool: HB22-1295 (Sirota & Garnett/Buckner & Fenberg): establishes the functions of the Department of Early Childhood and the leadership of the department in administering early childhood, child health, and family support programs. It also creates the Colorado universal preschool program, which will provide at least 10 hours per week of free preschool services for children in the year before kindergarten, beginning with the 2023 school year.
- Early Childhood Educator Income Tax Credit: HB22-1010 (Sirota & Van Beber/Buckner & Kirkmeyer): creates a refundable income tax credit for early childhood educators tied to their credentialing level. This is a proven strategy to support recruitment, retention, compensation, and professional advancement among our vital early childhood educators.
- Support for Early Childhood Programs: SB22-213 (Fields & Sonnenberg/Valdez A. & Tipper): allocates funding to a number of early childhood programs, including workforce support, expansion grants, employer-based child care programs, home visiting, and family, friend, and neighbor support to sustain and expand programs that are making a meaningful impact in child care and early learning.
- Modifications to Colorado Works Program: HB22-1259 (Duran & Jodeh/Moreno): updates and improves the TANF program, known here as Colorado Works, so that families can fully benefit from its support. The bill increases basic cash assistance (BCA) and implements an annual cost of living adjustment to ensure that BCA keeps up with inflation and the rising cost of living.
- Eviction Legal Defense Funding: HB22-1329 (McCluskie/Hansen): secures $500 thousand in the “Long Bill,” or the FY 2022-23 state budget, to provide additional legal assistance for Colorado families going through the eviction process.