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Our lead allies in Colorado are Clayton Early Learning and the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Clayton prepares young children for school through family-centered classrooms and home-based practices, research/program evaluation, and professional development. The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a policy, advocacy and research, organization that partners with an extensive statewide network of child advocates, and serves as the leading voice for kids at the state capitol. The two organizations partner closely with a wide array of advocates to advance well-being for children throughout the state.

State Early Childhood Policy Environment and 2021 Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Advocacy Landscape:

A Colorado coalition of advocates is working with Child Care NEXT funding on a sustained effort to pursue bold transformation for the state’s child-care ecosystem.  

Policy Landscape and Progress:

$12.91B State Budget

Estimated FY2021 State General Fund Expenditures

House (D), Senate (D),
Governor (D)

2021 Regular Session
(1/13 - 6/8)

180,453 Young Children (0-8) are Below 200% FPL


Percentage of Children 0-8 Living in Households Below 200% FPL

Colorado took significant steps in early childhood and family well-being in the 2021 legislative session. Between elevating early childhood to a cabinet-level department, advancing family child care, removing barriers to opportunity for families who lack proper documentation, expanding early childhood mental health systems and access, and making historic investments, Colorado is re-structuring its early-childhood landscape.

Going beyond incremental change, Colorado advocates and policymakers again took major steps on a path to fundamentally transform the state’s early-childhood system.

    • HB 1304. Creates Department of Early Childhood to expand access to EC opportunities, coordinate services, support a mixed delivery system of early childhood, prioritize interests and input of children, parents, providers, and community, and unify administration of early-childhood programs and services. Creates a Transition Working Group and Transition Advisory Group to develop a transition plan for new department and make recommendations for implementation of universal preschool, with specific requirements for both. $1.06M (GF) in 2021-22, $672K (GF) in 2022-23
    • HB 1222. Requires that family child care homes (FCCH) be classified as residences for purposes of licensure and local regulations, including zoning, land use development, fire and life safety, and building codes. Bill adds a provision stating that when Department of Human Services reviews and rewrites its rules concerning child-care agencies or facilities, it shall seek advice from Department of Public Safety when such rules relate to specific types of child care agencies or facilities. HB 1222 will positively impact 1,432 FCCH providers who are currently caring for approximately 12,300 children, while also improving the process for new FCCH providers to gain a license and increase number of children being served in high-quality FCCHs.
    • SB 236. Creates 4 new early childhood care and education grant programs and modifies two existing grant programs: 1) Employer-based child care facility grant program ($8.8M GF, repeals 7/1/24), 2) Early Care and Education Recruitment and Retention Grant and Scholarship Program ($7.1M Child Care, DBG FF), 3) Child Care Teacher Salary Grant Program ($3M Child Care, DBG FF), 4) CIRCLE grant program ($16.8M Child Care, DBG FF through FY22-23); Allocates federal funds for child care sustainability ($293M Child Care, DBG FF), CCCAP ($23.8M Child care, DBG FF), child care quality and availability grants ($43.5M Child care DBG FF), EC mental health consultation ($2.2M Child care, DBG FF), and administration ($172K Child care DBGF FF); Modifies the Child Care Sustainability Grant Program ($34.8M GF) by extending grant deadline and range of awards and allowed uses for the Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant Program ($8.7M GF).
    • SB 199. Eliminates current requirement of verification of lawful presence in the U.S. to receive benefits pursuant to federal stimulus or, effective July 1, 2022, for eligibility for eligible state and local public benefits and public contracting or grant requirements. This includes child care licenses and eligibility for relevant grants. FN: $131K GF, $131K FF.
    • SB 193. Makes changes to statute concerning care for pregnant persons, which addresses medical malpractice insurance coverage, policies for health facilities that provide labor and delivery services, and treatment of pregnant persons in correctional facilities. FN: $241K GF
    • SB 194. Requires reimbursement from insurance for healthcare services related to labor and delivery to be delivered in a manner that promotes high-quality, cost-effective care and prevents risk in subsequent pregnancies and must not discriminate based on type of provider or facility. Requires licensed labor and delivery service providers to accept transfers from a home or birthing center, allows a person who was eligible during pregnancy under Medicaid and CHP+ to remain continuously eligible postpartum for 12 months, and expands the scope and work of Colorado’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee. FN: 2021-22 — $160K GF, $481K FF; 2022-23: $8.1M GF, $10.2M FF
    • HB 1311 and HB 1312. Make substantial reforms to Colorado’s income-tax deductions and credit provisions. Most relevant to the early-childhood sector will be the increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to 25% of the federal credit, the funding of a state Child Tax Credit, and an increase in the Business Personal Property deduction available to small businesses. FN: HB 21-1311 – EITC, $24M in 2021-22 to $98M in 2023-24; CTC, $53M in 21-22 to $108M in 23-24 / HB 21-1312
    • SB 137. Makes numerous changes and investments in behavioral health priorities, including expanded screening for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders for the parent of each child enrolled in Medicaid whether or not the parent is enrolled in Medicaid and implementing early childhood and mental health evaluation, gap analysis, and financing strategy. FN: 21-22 – $190K GF to $376K GF in 22-23 for ECMH infrastructure and $500K for the ECMHC program; FY 21-22 – $156K GF for PMAD screening expansion.
    • SB 025. Requires Dept. of Health Care Policy and Financing to seek federal authorization through an amendment to the State Medical Assistance Plan to provide family planning services to individuals who are not pregnant and whose income does not exceed state’s current effective income level for pregnant women under Children’s Basic Health Plan.
    • SB 027. Requires CDHS to contract with diaper distribution center to administer a diaper and diapering essentials distribution program. FN: $2M GF
    • SB 101. Improves access to direct entry midwives and advances equitable access to birthing preferences of families.
    • SB 16. Preventive Health Care Coverage: Concerns services related to Preventive Health Care, requires coverage for certain preventive measures, screenings, and treatments that are administered, dispensed, or prescribed by health care providers and facilities.1
    • SB 116. Prohibits use of American Indian mascots by public schools, including charter and institute charter schools, and public institutions of higher education. The bill imposes a fine of $25,000 per month for each month that a public school continues to use a mascot after such date, payable to the state education fund. FN: No appropriation required.
    • SB 275. Transfers responsibility for Part C of IDEA Child Find from CDE to CDHS on July 1, 2022, including the referral intake process and Part C evaluations. Requires an interagency operating agreement for coordination of transitions from Part C to Part B services under IDEA. FN: $8.3M GF
    • CO 44. Concerns a supplemental appropriation to the Department of Human Services.1
    • SB 217. Market Rate Study for Child Care Assistance Program: Concerns adjusting the contract for a market rate study of provider rates for the State Child Care Assistance Program from annually to every three years, and, in connection therewith, reducing an appropriation.1
    • SB 269. Licensing of Respite Child Care Centers: Concerns licensing respite child care centers, defines respite child care centers and includes them in the overall definition of child care center for licensing purposes, makes an appropriation.1
    • HB 1313. Child Protection Ombudsman and Immigrant Children: Concerns permitting the office of the child protection ombudsman to initiate investigations on behalf of unaccompanied immigrant children who are housed in state-licensed residential child care facilities, makes an appropriation.1
    • Reauthorization of Executive Order directing state agencies to make changes to child care subsidy program
    • Reauthorization of moratorium on evictions during the public health crisis.
    • SB 21-167. Would have eliminated key protections for children’s health and safety in child care. The Campaign led conversations to amend the SB 167 bill to make it more acceptable to ECE stakeholders, so that the final bill was more narrowly tailored to address specific duplicative oversight issues.
    • SB 21-201. Would have had unintended consequences for infant and toddler and FFN care as introduced. Clayton worked with stakeholders to make it more acceptable to the FFN community before passage. 

Influencing Federal Relief Funds
Allies in Colorado successfully advocated for housing relief allocation, including increased funding for eviction legal defense, behavioral health investments, and federal education funding to be targeted to historically underserved communities.

Sustained Advocacy Campaigns
In 2022, allies in Colorado are supporting statewide Initiative 25 (Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress -LEAP) to support extended learning opportunities, opposing statewide Initiative 19 to cut property taxes, and supporting a local ballot measure in Larimer County to fund birth-through-5 services.

Colorado Advocacy Snapshot:


National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Early Care and Education Bill Tracking, Searchable Database for 2021. August 2021.


National Center for Children in Poverty, “NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample, 2019.” Provided to the Alliance for Early Success, November 2020.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). 2021 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 1, 2021. August 2021.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Early Care and Education Bill Tracking, Searchable Database for 2021. August 2021.

Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. “Population of Children Aged 0 to 8 (2019),” (as cited in Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center). November 2020.  

State Grantees of the Alliance for Early Success, Survey and Analysis by Frontera Strategy, September-November 2021.

Vesey White, Kathryn, et al. (Spring 2021). “Table 4: Fiscal 2020 State General Fund, Estimated (Millions),” The Fiscal Survey of States. National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). August 2021.

More State Policy Data:


More State Demographic Data:



Top Alliance Grantee Priorities in Colorado for 2022

Create a more child- and family-centered early childhood system and enhance equitable service provision through the implementation of a new, cabinet-level early childhood department that can more effectively blend and braid funds, build a user-centered system, and bring alignment to fragmented standards and programs

Provide support, technical assistance, and policy expertise as needed to support implementation of the new early childhood department and implementation of universal preschool.

Improve the diverse recruitment, retention, and compensation of early childhood educators in all settings and support the professional development needs of the sector through policy change.

Enhance equitable opportunities for engagement in policy and advocacy by offering language translation services, holding meetings in the evenings/weekends, and expanding our statewide reach.

Collaborate with partners across sectors to improve the health, mental health, and financial wellbeing of young children, their families, and caregivers.

Increase the early childhood advocacy and leadership capacity of parents, families, educators, community members, and providers to build public will and advance policy efforts in 2022 through trainings, advocacy opportunities, and partnerships with grassroots organizations.