Proposed state agency aims to solve early childhood issues in Colorado
If lawmakers act on a recommendation approved by the state’s Early Childhood Leadership Commission, Colorado would get a state agency devoted entirely to early childhood programs. This momentous change could result in more streamlined, accessible early childhood programs that alleviate barriers to access currently faced by Colorado families and providers.
The early childhood years (birth to age 5) are a critical time in children and families’ lives. It is during this time when children are most likely to live in poverty and experience homelessness—and many are unable to access child care and preschool altogether. It is also often when families are earning the least amount of money in their careers. Therefore, it is especially important that our youngest kids receive the support and care they need; and the new state agency could be a first step toward improving opportunities for all children.
Colorado’s current early child care and education programs exist across multiple state agencies with varying eligibility requirements and funding streams. Establishing a cabinet level state agency would coordinate the existing disparate programs and support greater access to quality early care and education services. The recent passage of Proposition EE would aid in this endeavor by providing funding to help implement high quality universal preschool for 4-year-olds and support the improved infrastructure of child care programs.
If the bill creating a new state agency passes this spring, the commission hopes to launch the agency by 2023 at the latest. By elevating early childhood to the importance that it deserves, Colorado can become a place where a supportive world of childhood experiences helps families and children on their path to kindergarten entry and beyond.