DENVER, CO– The House Education Committee today approved Representative Kerry Tipper’s bill to invest in our early childhood education and care providers and channel state and federal funds to support Colorado’s families. This bill is a part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus, a package of legislation that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. The bill passed by a vote of 7-2.
“This session, we’ve made sure to put families first as we worked to build back a stronger Colorado and create an economy that leaves no one behind,” said Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood. “The robust investments that this bill channels into early childhood education and child care will support working parents returning to their places of employment post-pandemic, create and retain good jobs for educators, and help beat back some of the worst effects of the economic downturn that disproportionately affected women.”
SB21-236 takes several steps to support child care providers and young families in Colorado. First, it creates the innovative new Employer-based Child Care Facility Grant Program and funds it with Colorado Comeback state stimulus dollars. The program would award matching grants to nonprofit, private, and government employers to retrofit and develop new, on-site or near-site, licensed child care facilities. These grants are meant to ensure that Coloradans have access to high-quality child care at their places of work as we come out of the pandemic, and would prioritize employers whose workforce earns below the area median income.
The bill also sets up a framework to ensure hundreds of millions of federal dollars directed to the Child Care and Development (CCDF) fund can be spent effectively and efficiently by the Department of Human Services. These funds have already been disbursed by the federal government but require state approval to be properly implemented. SB21-236 sets up several new programs and adequately funds several others to ensure Colorado’s youngest kids, as well as their parents and early childhood professionals, can thrive.
The seven programs in this category, as outlined in the bill’s fiscal note, include The Child Care Sustainability Grant Program, created in last year’s special session to provide financial support to licensed child care providers and neighborhood youth organizations that were at risk of closing their doors due to the pandemic. The bill also creates and funds several programs to foster innovation, recruit and retain educators, and support mental health wellness in the early childhood education and care sector.