Early childhood is a critical time in children and families’ lives that lays the foundation for what is to come. In the first years of life, more than one million new neural connections are formed every second, setting the stage for children to acquire skills like working memory, language development, and self-control. Unfortunately, the early years are also when families often have the least support, and children face the greatest barriers to opportunity. Children experiencing disruptive levels of adversity during childhood can face a lifetime of challenges in overcoming these unstable foundations. Access to high quality early childhood experiences is critical in providing kids with the strong foundation they need to thrive.
It’s clear that caregiving, in all the ways it happens in children’s lives, is essential to Colorado’s success. The investments we make between birth and age eight achieve some of the best financial and social returns, including healthier, happier children and families; stronger, better supported communities; and a more stable state economy. The Children’s Campaign is proud to support policies that improve Colorado’s early childhood system for those who provide, seek, and use early childhood programs and services, and for those who face barriers to accessing the early childhood system in any capacity.
Where Colorado Stands
According to our 2022 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report, there are over 390,000 children under 6 in Colorado. Over 10,200 of these children live in poverty, and 6% of our kids are exposed to multiple adverse childhood experiences during this critical early childhood period. Only 39% of children ages 9 to 35 months have received a developmental screening.
With the passage of HB22-1295 and its creation of the Colorado Universal Preschool program and the Colorado Department of Early Childhood, our state is poised to confront these data with responsive, trauma-informed early childhood care and education programming for every child in the state. Other legislation, including HB22-1010, also make essential investments into Colorado’s early childhood workforce. The Children’s Campaign is heavily involved in the implementation process of these state programs and the development of other policies which support our families’ ability to access quality care. In doing so, we continue working to ensure every child in the state will have guaranteed access to the services and programs that set our kids and families up for success.
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 high-quality early childhood programs and continued improvements in program alignment and efficiency. Specifically, we are focused on the following policy priorities:
Early Care and Education
The quality of a child’s developmental and early learning experiences plays a critical role in ensuring their future success. Offering all Colorado families access to high-quality, affordable child care and preschool is at the forefront of our advocacy agenda.
Workforce Recruitment and Retention
A high-quality, fairly compensated, well supported, and culturally and linguistically diverse early childhood workforce is essential to ensuring that all of our youngest Coloradans receive the early experiences that set them on a path to success in school and in life.
Social Emotional Development
The link between a child’s mental health and their school readiness, behavioral and social-emotional well-being, and long-term health and life outcomes is significant during early and adolescent development.
Building a Stronger Early Childhood System
Thanks to the visionary work of Colorado’s early childhood community, the state is transforming our early childhood system to better serve children, families, early childhood program providers across all settings, and communities across the state.
Two Generation Policies
Two generation policy solutions address the needs of the child and the adults in their family at the same time, by integrating access to diverse, mixed-delivery early childhood programs with access to health, economic, and community supports.
Evidence-based home visiting services and early intervention programs have an impressive track record of success in improving outcomes for kids and families, however, they are limited in their reach in Colorado.
Physical and Oral Health
Physical and oral health care is essential for the well-being of Coloradans. Despite this, not all Colorado kids and families have access to high quality and affordable care.
Investing in Infants and Toddlers
The Colorado Children’s Campaign’s three-part series, Ready, Set, Go: Investing in Infants and Toddlers, examines how the foundations for lifelong success start in the earliest stages of life, from before birth through early childhood.