DENVER, CO– The Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission today advanced four legislative proposals to improve state law and create new grant programs to support early childhood students and educators,
“As a lawmaker, a mother of two, and a former early childhood administrator, I am very pleased with the legislation we advanced today,” said Committee Chair Rep. Emily Sirota (D-Denver). “Colorado’s youngest residents should receive the best support available–and that means working to actively recruit and retain the best education professionals available. I’m pleased that we took steps today to guarantee this will be the case.”
“Today we passed bills to support families and invest in our state’s future,” said committee member Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon). “I’m proud of the important proposals we advanced and look forward to continuing my work to provide coloradans with the high-quality early childhood services they deserve. I think most Colorado families, especially those in rural areas like the one I represent, would agree that few investments are more worthwhile than in our children’s education, mental health and wellness.”
Supports for Early Childhood Educator Workforce. The committee approved a bill that will create scholarships, apprenticeship programs, and opportunities for professional development for early childhood educators. If enacted, the proposal would propose improvements to the early childhood educator credential licensing program and would mandate a biennial report on the need for qualified early childhood educators. It would also create a grant and scholarship program that may be awarded to individuals pursuing careers in early childhood education as well as nonprofits and education institutions that either provide or incentivize early childhood education. Finally, the bill would create the Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship program in the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) to create a pathway into the early childhood profession. Early childhood educators serve our children at a critical time in their intellectual development and this bill aims to recruit and retain the best possible workforce for Colorado’s children.
Helping Others Manage Early Childhood Act. If enacted, this bill would create a public awareness campaign and a series of workshops focused on increasing the number of early childhood workers and to raise awareness on what young children need to know when entering kindergarten.
Increase Quality in Early Childhood Education Programs. The committee also advanced a bill that expands the pool of providers that the Colorado Department of Human Services can provide technical assistance and financial incentives in order to increase their overall quality rating. Specifically, the bill expands the ability of early childhood educator providers to tap into quality improvement training funding, ensuring that many more early childhood educators in our state have access to the tools and resources they need to serve young coloradans at a critical phase in their lives.
Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants. Finally, the committee advanced a bill that requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to develop and implement a program of early childhood mental health consultation. This program would create a model by which mental health professionals can consult with families, expecting families, caregivers and early childhood education providers on the best practices for meeting the developmental and mental health needs of children up to eight years old.