Colorado's new Department of Early Childhood continues to move forward

Colorado Succeeds, in collaboration with a coalition of advocates, supported universal preschool and the state’s establishment of the Department of Early Childhood, which will oversee implementation of the new program.

Expected to save families an average of $4,300 per year on childcare, the program is set to begin next school year (2023-2024). The Department will be responsible for the delivery of ten hours of high-quality, universal preschool for all Colorado children. Although universal preschool won’t officially begin until 2023, the Department’s implementation is already underway.

With so many new and exciting developments, here are three things to watch:

The success of any initiative is largely contingent on who is chosen to lead it. Governor Polis recently chose Lisa Roy to be the newly appointed Executive Director for Colorado’s Department of Early Childhood.

Grounded in her deep-rooted background in early childhood education, Lisa is the former Executive Director of Early Childhood for Denver Public Schools and a mother who pursued higher education while in the workforce.

Joining her as the Department’s Executive Director of the Universal Preschool Program is Dawn Odean, the former executive director of Early Learning at Jefferson County Public Schools, where she served for over 20 years. These two leaders will have lasting impacts on the strategic direction and vision of the state’s first universal preschool program.  

The application for universal preschool will open at the beginning of 2023. In order to help parents know where to go, the program will be organized through local coordinating organizations (LCOs) which are community entities responsible for supporting local access and equitable delivery of early childhood and family support programs.

The LCOs are generally local government entities, non-profits, and childcare providers like Head Start programs, childcare centers, or school district-based childcare programs. Each LCO is charged with streamlining a local approach to the unique childcare needs of the community. To learn which LCO will manage the dollars and programs available in your community, click here.

Colorado Succeeds advocated for the new program to be designed with simplicity, efficiency, and ease of use for families and preschool providers. The state is currently working to establish a portal that families can use to access the universal preschool program. Colorado Succeeds will be closely tracking the development to ensure the portal is user-friendly and streamlines other early childhood education and care programs into one centralized system reducing inefficiencies and bureaucracy placed on families.

Stay tuned to Colorado Succeeds as the state continues to get ready to launch the program next year or connect with us to learn more! 

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