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Colorado Allies Led Forward-Thinking Efforts That Resulted in Bold Wins for Children, Families, and Their Communities

Colorado allies at Clayton Early Learning and the Colorado Children’s Campaign forged new advocacy relationships for bold and ambitious changes for their communities. As a result, a plethora of legislative bills passed to strengthen equity and access by addressing critical issues facing Coloradans. Enacted legislation includes changes in governance for the early childhood system, zoning and regulation changes for family child care centers, removing barriers to benefits and licensure for undocumented people, and a birth equity package. Strengthening collaboration and elevating diverse voices created new opportunities for equitable progress for Colorado children and families.

Progress for the Early Childhood System

Colorado faced a child care shortage before and during the pandemic. There were many barriers in place that hindered availability and accessibility, especially for licensed family child care homes. Clayton Early Learning led a coalition that included providers and community members to remove inequitable barriers and improve regulations for family child care providers. Large advocacy and coalition efforts led to unanimous, bipartisan support of HB 1222, which removes costly regulation requirements and classifies family child care homes as residences. This bill creates more opportunities for families to access infant and toddler care – most often offered in family child care homes – while providing support to family child care providers to manage their small business.

“As our communities work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been reminded how child care is the backbone of our economy. Everyone depends on someone who depends on child care. This law will remove costly and time-consuming obstacles many providers were facing that were ultimately causing them to leave the field altogether.”

Christina Walker, Director, Policy & Advocacy
Clayton Early Learning

The Colorado Children’s Campaign championed HB 1304, informed by community voices. This bill changes the governance structure for the early childhood system by establishing a new department of early childhood. The new cabinet level agency will integrate early childhood programs and funding sources and will ensure quality measures are implemented. After the passage of universal preschool through proposition EE, allies worked with diverse voices to understand the underlying issues impacting access and quality of preschool programs. The Campaign ensured that parent and provider voices were included in advocacy efforts by providing translation services, technical assistance, and resources for compensation. The bill also calls for community partnerships to create mixed delivery opportunities for child care and early childhood programs. Lastly, the bill unifies oversight and administration of early childhood programs.

Colorado allies are continuing to build coalition efforts and partnering with state departments to ensure successful implementation of these bills.

A Trifecta for Birth Equity

Colorado allies at Clayton Early Learning partnered with the Elephant Circle to co-lead advocacy efforts to improve inequities in maternal and infant health outcomes.  Advocates ensured that voices of diverse mothers were elevated through a report that set out recommendations that led to the creation of Colorado’s Birth Equity bill package. Colorado’s legislative Black Caucus championed the bills to reduce racial disparities for birth outcomes. These state bills will complement the federal Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 , which was introduced earlier this year.

Colorado’s Birth Equity Bill Package included:

  • SB 193 – established protection of rights for pregnant people during perinatal care, including those who are incarcerated.
  • SB 194 – aligns perinatal care data and systems for equity through the appropriation of state funding for pregnant people.
  • SB 21-101 – provides support for the continuation to the Direct-Entry Midwifery program and implements recommendations contained in the 2020 sunset report.

Improving Community Prosperity

The Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition partnered with Clayton Early Learning and the Colorado Children’s Campaign to advocate for a two-fold win that removes barriers for community members without proper documentation. This partnership was an example of how sharing power, skill sets, and expertise – such as research, coalition building, and organizing – can create a movement for a more prosperous community. A community which creates new opportunities that allows undocumented individuals to access benefits, which repeals an inequitable bill implemented over a decade ago. SB 199 will allow undocumented Coloradans access to services, benefits, and licensure to provide public goods and services, including child care.

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