Early Childhood Professional Credential (ECPC)

The Need 

Demand for early childhood educators and directors is expected to increase by nearly 25% percent over the next ten years, especially in rural communities. These educators represent the most racially diverse sector of the teaching workforce, yet they are also among the lowest-paid professionals in Colorado. Making professional development and career advancement for educators more accessible can improve stability in the industry through increased recruitment and retention. 

The Strategy 

Funding for this activity has been used to support the early childhood workforce through implementation of the Early Childhood Professional Credential (ECPC). This voluntary credential is available to all Colorado early childhood professionals to document and quantify their professional growth and accomplishments. 

Professionals may use the ECPC to qualify for roles within licensed child care programs. It is also embedded in CDEC’s Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) and is the basis for the Early Childhood Educator Tax Credit. 

Key Outcomes and Learnings 


This activity enabled the review of the large number of ECPC applications received as a result of the tax credit and to support Colorado Shines QRIS monthly ratings. 

The passage of HB22-1010: The Early Childhood Educator Tax Credit affords tax credit eligibility for educators through the 2025 tax year. 

25,512 professionals were eligible for up to $1,600 in tax credits as of June 30, 2023, including 11,222 professionals who were awarded Early Childhood Professional Credentials after July 1, 2022. 


To earn an Early Childhood Professional Credential, the workforce provides information about four components of their professional background: Formal Education, Experience, Ongoing Professional Development and Demonstrated Competencies. This credential honors the diverse pathways and lived experience that professionals bring to the role by awarding a certain number of points for each component. 

  • Continued alignment of training and professional learning opportunities across the mixed delivery system to the points awarded within the ECPC will support the diverse pathways necessary to ensure a diverse and qualified early childhood workforce. 
  • State agencies can offer an efficient and responsive credentialing process to the early childhood workforce by contracting with vendors who can more quickly respond to surges in credential applications to prevent future backlog. 
  • Sustainable internal systems are being developed to enhance the rigor and reliability of the ECPC and to ensure a consistently responsive experience for the early childhood workforce and providers.

blue gear labeled workforce


Amount: $463,848

Source: American Rescue Plan Discretionary 

Expiration: September 30, 2024

Next Steps

CDEC will continue to address the fluctuation of ECPC applications by enlisting the contract vendor and individual service providers as needed.