Gov. Polis announces $275 million investment in Colorado’s early childhood sector
On Sept. 20, Gov. Polis and the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) announced the allocation of over $275 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to support families with young children, child care providers, and other early childhood professionals. The funds are intended to keep child care providers open through the pandemic, save Colorado families over $100 million in child care expenses, and support the retention of the early childhood educator workforce. This stimulus will go to licensed child care homes and centers, Colorado Child Care Assistance Program providers, and any preschool programs licensed by the Office of Early Childhood – amounting to approximately 4,700 eligible child care programs across the state.
$267 million will fund stabilization grants, workforce retention grants, and reduced family tuition for child care. In Colorado, families will save an average of $450 per child in tuition reductions over 9 months. The remaining funds will go toward programs like home visiting and community-based child abuse prevention that work to reduce child abuse and invest in parents’ mental health.
Although employee costs make up about 80% of early childhood program budgets, the early childhood sector’s workers are often among the lowest-paid educators in the state. This investment will provide Colorado’s approximately 24,000 early childhood educators with increased compensation, retention bonuses, professional development opportunities, and additional staffing support.
Child care is one of the largest expenses Colorado families face. Even before the pandemic, over half of parents reported missing work opportunities due to lack of care access or affordability. In Colorado, infant care costs nearly 10% more than our state’s average rent, and nearly 70% of children under the age of 6 live in families where all available parents are in the labor force. Not only are our children and families in need of a more expansive support system – our economy is dependent on the welfare of our families, too. This funding will help ensure that more of Colorado’s families are able to access the vital services they need by providing relief and stabilization to our child care providers and educators statewide.
You can read the full press release here, or learn more from the recording of the OEC’s Sept. 23 Town Hall (to be posted on OEC’s website). Keep up with KidsFlash to hear about future meetings hosted by the OEC to discuss the specific program breakdowns for this American Rescue Plan funding strategy.