Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!
|Innovation Name||Innovation Type||Innovation Subtype||Features at a Glance||Strategy Summary|
|Colorado Proposition EE||Dedicated Funding Streams||Nicotine Tax||
Tax is expected to generate up to $275.9 million in funding for universal pre-K during the 2027-28 budget year
In 2020, Colorado voters approved Proposition EE, which more than tripled state taxes on cigarettes, tobacco, and vaping products, and established a dedicated funding stream for the state's universal pre-K program. Proposition EE generated $208 million in tax revenue in fiscal year 2021-22, about $22 million more than was estimated.
In 2023, a follow up proposition, Proposition II, was approved to allow the state to retain and use the $23 million excess revenue from increased and new taxes established by Proposition EE, instead of refunding it to distributors and wholesalers. In addition, Proposition II maintains the same tax rates as Proposition EE.Learn More/Source: Proposition EE, Nicotine Tax Measure for Universal Preschool, Cruises to Victory
|Teacher Salary Increase Pilot Program||Workforce||Pay Increases||
Increase early childhood educator compensation by $1,000-$1,200 annually
In 2022, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood invested $3 million of Child Care Development Fund funds to conduct a pilot program to increase wages for educators serving children from birth to age five. Approximately 30% of child care programs that apply will be randomly selected to receive funding via a lottery process. This funding will increase educator pay by $1,000 to $1,200 annually. Programs that receive funding must meet the following criteria:
- 40% of children enrolled in the program receive Colorado Child Care Assistance Program subsidies
- The program holds a Colorado Shines Rating of Level 3 to 5
The success of this pilot program will be measured in terms of its impact on early educator recruitment, retention, and economic well-being. Family child care providers will be eligible for a different pilot program designed for home-based settings, which will launch at a later date.Learn More: Colorado Early Childhood Teacher Salary Increase Pilot
Colorado Department of Early Childhood. (2022).Colorado Early Childhood Teacher Salary Increase Pilot.
|Colorado Department of Early Childhood||Infrastructure Systems||Administrative + Governance Models||
Created a new department of early childhood
In 2019, Jared Polis was elected governor of Colorado; his first term in office saw the passage of several significant pieces of early childhood legislation, including the creation of the Colorado Department of Early Childhood. This new agency combined all early childhood programs previously housed in the departments of Human Services and Education. The Department Early Childhood and Universal Preschool Program (HB22-1295) bill created the new Department of Early Childhood responsible for implementing the state’s universal preschool program and included $13 million or key administrative functions.
High-level political leadership and a cabinet-level position paired with authority and commitment from the executive and the legislature can elevate and strengthen early childhood outcomes across the state or city. While the creation of a new department will not automatically create better outcomes for children, it can provide the structure and coordination needed to improve early education quality and accessibility across a state or city (Kagan, 2015).Learn More: Early Childhood System | Colorado General Assembly
|Child Care Development Specialist Apprenticeship Program||Workforce||Apprenticeships||
Part of Federal Registered Apprenticeship Program
In July 2020, Colorado passed HB 20-1053 to improve career and educational pathways for early childhood educators, including an apprenticeship program, the Child Care Development Specialist Federally Registered Apprenticeship Program, funded by approximately $5 million in federal stimulus money through September 2024 and administered through Red Rocks Community College. It is expected to address the workforce shortage in early childhood programs. Apprentices can earn an associate or bachelor’s degree and train to qualify as a child care center director. The program requires a 2-year commitment, and applicants must be at least 16 years old and either currently employed or willing to work full time in an early childhood program. The program requires 306 education hours and 4,000 hours of on-the-job learning with a mentor teacher. This program is the only federally registered apprenticeship for early childhood education in Colorado.Learn More: Red Rocks Community College
Red Rocks Community College. (n.d.). Child Care Development Specialist Apprenticeship Program.
Red Rocks Community College. (2018). Child Care Development Specialist.
Brundin, J. (2021). Apprenticeships Aren’t Just For The Trades. It’s Also A Way To Bolster Colorado’s Early Childhood Workforce. Colorado Public Radio.
Ellison, G. (2022). Colorado promotes apprenticeships for early childhood educators. Broomfield Leader.
|Sales and Use Tax for Denver Preschool Program||Dedicated Funding Streams||Sales Tax||
80% of funds generated by the 0.15% sales and use tax are allocated to families in the form of tuition credits
First in 2006, and then again in a 2014 reauthorization that extends through 2026, voters approved an allocation of 0.15 percent of sales and use taxes for the Denver Preschool Program (DPP). About 80% of the DPP funds go to families in the form of tuition credits.Learn More/source: Denver Preschool Program
Demographics Link copied!
5,839,926 Source U.S. Census, 2022
14.0% Source U.S. Census, 2020
86.0% Source U.S. Census, 2020
Number of children age 0-4
313,160 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Poverty levels – children 0-8 below 200% poverty
30% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Median family income among households with children
$102,300.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
3.3% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2022
Unemployment rate of parents
5% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force
65% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Children living in households with a high housing cost burden
30% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Child population by race and ethnicity Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Race and Ethnicity
- American Indian and Alaska Native (1%)
- Asian (3%)
- Black or African American (4%)
- Hispanic or Latino (32%)
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (.5%)
- Two or More Races (5%)
- White, not Hispanic or Latino (55%)
Political Landscape Link copied!
Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!
Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023
- 3-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (8%)
- 3-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (6%)
- Other/none (86%)
Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023
- 4-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (23%)
- 4-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (6%)
- Other/none (71%)
Workforce Link copied!
2017–2019 Median Hourly Wages Source CSCCE 2018, 2020
- Child care workers
- Preschool teachers
- Preschool or child care center directors
Funding Sources Link copied!
Federal and State Early Childhood Education Funding (in millions) Source First Five Years Fund, 2022
- Head Start and Early Head Start Funding ($115.4)
- CCDBG & Mandatory Funds ($105.6)
- CCDBG State Match ($22.1)
- CCDBG COVID Relief Allocations – CARES, CRRSE, ARPA (CCDF & Stabilization) ($626.5)
- State-Funded Pre-K ($56.6)
- MIECHV ($7.7)
- IDEA Part C ($11.1)
- IDEA Part B, Sec 619 ($7.9)
- TANF Early Learning and Care Expenditures ($106.4)
- Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five ($14.5)
The COVID Funding Cliff
All federal COVID relief allocations, including funding authorized by the CARES, CRRSE, and ARPA bills, must be fully spent by September 2024. An analysis from the Century Foundation shows this loss of funds could cause more than 3 million children to lose access to child care nationwide – including more than 83,000 children in Colorado.