In November of 2020, Colorado voters passed Proposition EE to gradually increase the tobacco tax and use that money to provide 10 free hours of preschool per week to students in the year before kindergarten. Now, supporters say it’s time to think even bigger when it comes to caring for and educating young children.
The Colorado Children’s Campaign is pushing for the creation of cabinet-level state agency to oversee early childhood programs and universal preschool funding.
“In order to get the support that families need, they're having to go to multiple different entities and they really are struggling to get what they need across that birth to 5 time period,” said Bill Jaeger, vice president for early childhood and policy initiatives at the Colorado Children's Campaign.
Jaeger said while Proposition EE will make childcare more affordable, it still doesn’t address issues with access and fragmentation in the system. He said the system involves too many different state and local agencies.
The Colorado Children’s Campaign said in hundreds of interviews conducted with families and childcare providers, they learned that providers are also having to work with too many different agencies.
“One story was a provider in Colorado Springs who said that she maintains contracts with 17 different school districts and four different counties,” Jaeger said.
Jaeger said the goal is to provide affordable, high-quality childcare to all families, including those who currently live in childcare deserts.
“We have to make sure that we have a strategy that ensures we have enough well-compensated and supportive educators and programs that are accessible to wherever families need,” Jaeger said.