March 17, 2022

COLORADO MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO UNIVERSAL PRE-K!

DENVER, CO – The House Education Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Representative Emily Sirota and Speaker Alec Garnett to create the Department of Early Childhood and deliver universal preschool to Colorado kids that will save families money and prepare our youngest students for success.

“Decades of research shows that early childhood education is critical for our kids and is one of the most effective tools we have to set up the next generation of Coloradans to thrive,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “This thoughtful proposal, which relies on collaboration with local communities and a broad array of providers, was unanimously approved by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission. Coming in 2023, every four year-old in Colorado can start free high quality preschool that will lay the foundation for a childhood full of learning.”

“Universal preschool is going to save families money and prepare our youngest learners for success,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “Early childhood education gives kids a leg up and sets the foundation for years of learning. With this legislation, we’re creating a one-stop-shop where every family can access 10 free hours of quality preschool. Colorado families have said loud and clear that they need more early childhood options, and I’m proud to say we’re delivering on our promise to create universal preschool in Colorado.”

HB22-1295 establishes the Department of Early Childhood to elevate early childhood education and ensure early childhood care is easy to navigate for Colorado families. The bill will make universal preschool a reality for hardworking families, parents and kids. The new Department of Early Childhood will streamline the early childhood system, making it easier for families to find and access providers by creating a single application for early childhood programs.

The program will provide 10 hours per week of free, high-quality preschool to every child the year before entering kindergarten starting in the 2023 school year, saving families thousands of dollars. The legislation supports mixed delivery preschool options, prioritizing quality, and respecting parent choice, while strengthening and supporting local infrastructure to best serve each community’s individual needs.

Speaker Garnett and Representative Sirota sponsored legislation in 2020 that established a unified early childhood system after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition EE by a two to one margin to provide voluntary, high-quality preschool to Coloradans. The legislation is based on recommendations from early childhood education community leaders, parents, and providers that received unanimous approval from the Early Childhood Leadership Commission.