March 24, 2022

UNIVERSAL PRE-K MOVES FORWARD IN HOUSE

DENVER, CO – The House today advanced legislation on a preliminary vote to deliver universal preschool to Colorado kids. The bill, sponsored by Representative Emily Sirota and Speaker Alec Garnett, would create the Department of Early Childhood to prepare our youngest students for success and save Colorado families thousands of dollars.

“We’re one step closer to providing universal preschool in Colorado,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “Early childhood education is one of the best tools we have for preparing our kids to thrive. To thoughtfully craft this important bill, we worked alongside local communities, providers and parents from across the state for many months. This work has paid off because beginning in 2023, every four-year-old in Colorado will be able to access high quality, free preschool!”

“The reality of universal preschool in Colorado is not far off,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver. “Our legislation is going to save families money by providing free preschool to every four-year-old in the state while giving kids access to the type of high quality early childhood education that sets them up for success in life. The new Department of Early Childhood will be a one-stop-shop for families to easily navigate and access their child’s free hours of preschool. We’ve heard from families in all four corners of our state, they want more early childhood options and we’re making it happen.”

HB22-1295 establishes the Department of Early Childhood to elevate early childhood education and ensures that early childhood care is easy to navigate for all 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 simpler 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.