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April 19, 2024

House Passes Bill to Expand Bilingual Early Childhood Programs

DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation to make early childhood education In Colorado more language inclusive and accessible. HB24-1009, sponsored by Representatives Junie Joseph and Barbara McLachlan, would support Spanish-speaking providers seeking professional licensure. 

“Coloradans across our state are searching for high-quality, affordable bilingual early childhood programs and this bill will help more Spanish-speaking providers get licensed,” said Rep. Junie Joseph, D-Boulder. “This bill improves bilingual outreach within the Department of Early Childhood Education to better support Spanish-speaking providers seeking professional licensure. Bilingual early childhood programs make education more accessible, inclusive, and culturally-centered for some of our youngest learners.”

“Early childhood education is the foundation to preparing our students for a lifetime of success,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “This important bill would make bilingual early childhood programs more accessible in Colorado by improving outreach and connection with Spanish-speaking providers. When children have access to education in their primary language, they can grow, learn and succeed, and this bill helps address some of the accessibility issues our state has when it comes to bilingual early childhood programs.”

HB24-1009 passed by a vote of 47 to 13. This bill would make early childhood education more inclusive and accessible by expanding bilingual early childhood programs and facilities with a new bilingual licensing unit in the Department of Early Childhood. Specifically, the bill would expand licensed child care options across the state by supporting Spanish-speaking providers to become licensed and provide more linguistically relevant child care options for children and families. The bill would require the department to provide that education and information  in plain language and prevalent languages to individuals completing paperwork to meet child care licensing requirements and to open a licensed early childhood program or facility. 

The demand for high-quality affordable child care is growing in Colorado. However, even when child care slots are available, there is often a lack of linguistically and culturally responsive care. According to the latest Census Bureau data, 16 percent of Colorado residents speak a language other than English at home, including 11 percent who speak Spanish.

Providing access to Spanish language child care licensing services and resources and education on licensing in prevalent languages would help remove barriers for child care providers and open the door to new, accessible child care options in communities across the state. 

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