Colorado Shines Brighter - Preschool Development Grant

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Birth through Five Needs Assessment, Strategic Plan, and Grant Reports

In 2018, Colorado was awarded a $5.8 million initial Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) initial grant requiring the completion of a comprehensive, statewide birth through five Needs Assessment of the current landscape of the early care and education mixed-delivery system, which resulted in Colorado Shines Brighter: Opportunities for Colorado’s Early Childhood System. 

To address the 12 key findings from the needs assessment, the Colorado Shines Brighter Strategic Plan outlines opportunities to maximize the availability of high-quality early care and education options for low-income and underserved families across providers and partners; improve the quality of care; streamline administrative infrastructure; and improve state-level early care and education funding efficiencies. Many of the strategies within the strategic plan will be implemented under the state's  PDG B-5 Renewal Grant, providing $11,171,969 in funding per year for three years (2020-2022).

Needs Assessment Reports

Strategic Plan

Other Reports and Resources

Preschool Development Grant News and Updates

View the full list of initial grant activities (2019) and resultant reports or resources HERE

Renewal grant activities can be tracked HERE

Stay Connected!

Receive the latest PDG B-5 news in your in-box! Sign up for the Colorado Shines Brighter Newsletter.

The Preschool Development Grant team provides regular updates to the Early Childhood Leadership Commission's Program Quality and Alignment (PQA) Subcommittee, the advisory body for the Colorado's PDG B-5 grant. Visit the Program Quality & Alignment Subcommittee webpage for more information including meeting dates, agendas, recordings, and supporting documents.

The Latest Preschool Development Grant News and Updates

New Business Guides for Early Care and Education Providers

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood is excited to share two new resources: 
Business Guide for Family Child Care Homes (en español
Business Guide for Child Care Centers (en español

The guides offer family child care home providers and child care centers, as well as those interested in expanding or starting new programs, a collection of resources to strengthen their small businesses. Early care and education providers are essential to the children and families they serve, their communities, and our state. The Business Guides were developed, through stakeholder focus groups, to make the business side of providing early care and education services easier.  

The guides are in an easy-to-navigate digital format allowing users to click on hyperlinks to access the most up-to-date information on budgeting, regulatory compliance, and other operational functions of a small business. The guides are “living documents”, which are updated at least annually with new information or resources as they become available. We encourage those accessing the document to always follow the link to ensure they are accessing the most up-to-date version. As they are a compendium of existing resources, the guides will only be in a digital format.

Each guide focuses on relevant information on the operational functions of a small business for providers depending on the type of setting they use to provide early care. The Business Guides include information on:

  • Licensing and Quality Ratings: Ratios and group sizes, building requirements, Child Care Licensing contact information, and Colorado Shines - QRIS.
  • Business Planning: Zoning, background checks, legal structure, budgeting, marketing, enrollment, and fee collection.
  • Financials: Covering the cost of serving children, public revenue descriptions, and covering the cost of food.
  • Staff Training: Training options and career pathways, professional development, higher education, and coaching funding.
  • Other business-related topics.

Transitions to Kindergarten in Colorado: A Roadmap

The 2019 Colorado Shines Brighter Needs Assessment highlighted the need to increase transition knowledge and associated support for both senders and receivers across the state’s B-5 mixed delivery system. Beginning in 2019, the CDHS Office of Early Childhood (OEC) partnered with the CDE Preschool through Third Grade Office (P-3 Office) to engage the National P-3 Center (NP-3C) to identify strategies and tools to support children, their families, and early care and education and K-12 professionals as children transition to kindergarten.

In 2021, the NP-3C finalized the report, Transitions to Kindergarten in Colorado: A Roadmap. The Roadmap identifies eight strategies addressing state and local opportunities to improve cross-sector collaboration, with a focus on the policy levers that can be enacted to support transitions.

The Roadmap was endorsed by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission in February 2022, as a framework to systematically ensure more children in every community across the state benefit from effective and culturally and linguistically responsive supports as they move from early childhood experiences into kindergarten.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 1.3.2 Transitions Roadmap.

New Early Childhood Mental Health Support Line

A new resource from the State of Colorado is being made available to parents, providers, and professionals who work with young children. 

The Early Childhood Mental Health Support Line is a no-cost, confidential resource for anyone who cares for children under six. The support line helps families and caregivers to better understand and support the mental and emotional wellbeing of young children in their care. Trained mental health consultants provide support for parents and professionals so they can support young children’s social-emotional development, address behavioral questions or concerns, and connect caregivers to resources in their community.

To connect with an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, click here to fill out the online form or call the ECMH Support Line at (833) ECMH411 Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to speak directly to a consultant.

Your organization plays an important role in helping young children across Colorado thrive. The support line is a free resource that can help your community promote early childhood mental health, which provides benefits for a lifetime. A communication toolkit was developed to help spread the word about the Support Line with those who care for young children. We are grateful for your commitment and partnership to ensuring Colorado’s children are valued, healthy and thriving! 

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 2.2.2 ECMH Support Line and Teleconsultation.

Share The PLAYbook with parents and caregivers in your community!

The PLAYbook contains information and activities that anyone caring for young children – including parents, siblings, guardians, grandparents, babysitters, neighbors, and family friends - can use to prepare children to be successful when entering kindergarten. The PLAYbook is designed to get parents and caregivers thinking about building children's skills in the locations where they spend time together, using what they may already have around their home through play. The PLAYbook is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Burmese, and Somali. The digital version allows users to download the document, take notes, use checklists, and engage with interactive tools! Access the communications toolkit to share The PLAYbook! Contact Amanda Culbertson at Amanda.Culbertson@state.co.us with questions.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 3.1.1 School Readiness Handbook.

Colorado EI Early Start - Model Development Final Report

The Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) is excited to share the Colorado EI Early Start - Model Development Final Report. This report details the recommendations of a broad stakeholder group regarding how the proposed new program should be structured.  

In July 2020, Colorado, like many states, faced fiscal pressures due to the pandemic, resulting in the difficult decision to change the eligibility criteria for the Early Intervention Colorado program as part of cost containment measures. Through emergency rulemaking, the OEC initiated the eligibility change and then worked with stakeholders to add additional definitions which led to the development of the Early Intervention Early Start (EI Early Start) program for those children and families who do not meet the revised eligibility criteria or who may have identified risk factors. Over the last several months, a group of stakeholders - informed by parent, provider, and community organization input - have been working on developing the EI Early Start model. Materials from the Early Start work group can be found here.

The Report details the work group's recommendations on the following aspects of the program model: 

  • eligibility criteria and definition of risk factor; 
  • referral, marketing and outreach strategies; 
  • service delivery and care navigation;  
  • program costs, financing and payment methods;
  • data collection and performance evaluation criteria; and
  • program name.

In addition to recommendations, the report includes information about the data collected to inform the decision-making process; themes from work group discussions; and potential implementation barriers and strategies to overcome them. A one-page overview of the report can be found here.

As a next step, CDEC will be seeking funding for the proposed EI Early Start program. A request to help fund the establishment of the program was included in the Governor’s budget request.  You can read about that here.  We hope you enjoy reading about this innovative, important new program to ensure all children are healthy, valued and thriving.

This work is responsive to Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 4.1.8 Early Start Model Development.

New and improved Colorado Shines Professional Development Information Systems (PDIS) now available!

The Colorado Shines PDIS is the statewide system that provides training and tracks the qualifications and credentials of early childhood professionals. The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) rebuilt and improved the PDIS to better support professional development. The technology for the new Colorado Shines PDIS is easier to use and more reliable. The requirements for child care licensing and voluntary credentials, such as the Early Childhood Professional Credential, are aligned to make the process easier to navigate. The new Colorado Shines PDIS includes an updated Early Childhood Professional Credential 3.0 with simpler scoring. The new PDIS is a single place for professionals to apply for and receive qualifications for a wide variety of roles. This system launched June 14, 2021 - watch this video playlist to learn about the new PDIS! The PDIS website has changed - please use ColoradoShinesPDIS.com. 

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategies 1.1.3 Workforce Data System Modernization and 6.2.1 Professional Development Information System.
 
Introducing the New Colorado Shines QRIS Framework

Para obtener información en español, haga clic aquí.

The Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) promotes quality in early care and learning programs by empowering providers to create safe, nurturing, and educational environments for our state’s youngest children. The QRIS Framework is a collection of evidence-based indicators of quality grouped into five standard areas: Workforce and Professional Development, Family Partnerships, Leadership, Management and Administration, Learning Environment, and Child Health.

After extensive stakeholder engagement and close collaboration with child care quality experts over many months, the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is pleased to present a comprehensive update to the Colorado Shines QRIS framework. The update launched on January 1, 2022. View the updated Colorado Shines QRIS Framework indicators.

Highlights of the Framework updates include: 

  • Simplified scoring, elimination of redundant indicators, streamlined verification
  • Recognition of the unique circumstances of family child care homes
  • Alignment with the latest research on quality in early care and education

In-person Colorado Shines ratings started up again in January 2022, using the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale®, Third Editions (ITERS-3, ECERS-3, and FCCERS-3). For more information on the ERS-3 and updates to the Colorado Shines QRIS Framework, view some frequently asked questions and the QRIS fact sheet

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 6.1.1 Colorado Shines Updates.

Training, Scholarships, and Grants for Early Care & Education Professionals

Leading Edge for Child Care Providers (Home-Based) (Pikes Peak SBDC)

When: October 15 - November 19 on Saturdays from 9:00am to 12:00pm

Where: Online

Cost: Free

Registration: https://clients.coloradosbdc.org/workshop.aspx?ekey=70420181

Target Audience: Owners and employees of licensed home-based child care facilities

Description: The LEADING EDGE™ Course is a trademarked, statewide program for current business owners (or startups who are moving from idea stage to implementation).

The Pikes Peak SBDC's LEADING EDGE™ for Childcare Providers is created to help both licensed childcare providers (home-based) and start-ups. The program assists childcare providers to strengthen business practices and the ever-changing landscape of the Colorado workforce.

In partnership with the Alliance for Kids and Early Connections, the SBDC is hosting this 6-week impactful course with the goal of enhancing business owner skills.

This program is funded through a collaborative between the State of Colorado’s Department of Early Childhood, the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and the Colorado SBDC network. A primary objective of this project is to strengthen the childcare provider business model and enhance business owner skills so that these critically important services can continue to support our local economies.

Professional Development Statement: Child care providers can earn professional development hours through the Professional Development Information System (PDIS) by attending all training sessions. A recorded option and follow-up with the trainer are available if you have to miss a live class.  Participation can also help earn points towards your Colorado Shines quality rating. Read more here.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 5.1.2 Business Practices. 

 

Mastering Your Business Essentials for Child Care Centers (East Colorado SBDC)

When: October 11 - November 1 on Tuesday evenings from 6:30pm to 9:15pm

Where: Online Course

Cost: Free

Register here: bit.ly/2022childcarecenter

Target Audience: Child Care Centers

Course Description & Objectives: Operating a Child Care Center can be a challenge but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. The key is to focus on the decisions that make the greatest impact on your business. Join this course to learn strategies to successfully manage the operations, finances, and marketing of your business.

Topics include:

  • Core elements of a successful business model 
  • Financial best practices for long-term fiscal success
  • Managing employees and new employment laws
  • Using marketing as an effective communication tool
  • How to prepare for the unexpected
  • Regulation and licensing updates

What To Expect:

  • Four online class sessions, including interactive group work and discussions with subject matter experts
  • Confidential one-on-one consulting with certified SBDC consultants

Earn Professional Development Credits - 12 Hrs

Child care providers can earn 12 professional development hours through the Professional Development Information System (PDIS) by attending all training sessions. Please note, a recorded option and follow-up with the trainer is available if you have to miss a live class. Participation can also help earn points towards your Colorado Shines quality rating. Read more here.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 5.1.2 Business Practices. Four online class sessions, including interactive group work and discussions with subject matter experts Confidential one-on-one consulting with certified SBDC consultants

 

Fundamentals for Child Care Businesses (North Metro Denver SBDC)

When: October 6 - November 10 on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 pm

Where: Online via Zoom

Cost: Free

Registration: https://clients.coloradosbdc.org/workshop.aspx?ekey=40420043

Target Audience: Child Care Provides (centers or homes)

Course Description: This course is a six-week program designed to help child care providers in the state of Colorado to improve their business practices to both better serve their customers and promote their business sustainability with increased revenues. No prior business training is required, all are welcome! The class will meet online via Zoom, and participants are also invited to meet online one-on-one with an SBDC business consultant during and after the course for specific and continued training and support.

Training and consultation are available at no cost through partnership between the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), and funding from the Colorado Shines Brighter – Preschool Development Grant.

Course Objectives: By the end of this course, you will have the resources and knowledge needed to make improvements in your business model and operational practices. Examples of areas covered include:

  • Discover the mindset of a business owner
  • Examine your current business structure
  • Optimize your system for tracking finances
  • Assess your business liability insurance policy
  • Develop a business model that matches your goals

Child care providers can earn professional development hours through the Professional Development Information System (PDIS) by attending all training sessions. Please note, a recorded option and follow up with the trainer is available if you have to miss a live class. Participation can also help earn points towards your Colorado Shines quality rating. Read more here.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 5.1.2 Business Practices. 

 

Early Childcare Business Training Program (Larimer SBDC)

When: October 6 - November 17 on Thursdays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. *No class on October 13th*

Where: Offered online, Zoom link will be sent upon registration 

Cost: Free

Register here: https://larimersbdc.org/early-childcare-business-training-program/

Target Audience: Home-based childcare providers

Description & Objectives: 

Are you interested in starting a family childcare home? Or, have you already started but want more guidance on how to run your home childcare program?

This course is a six-week program designed to help new or existing childcare providers in the state of Colorado to improve their business practices to both better serve their customers and promote their business sustainability with increased revenues. No prior business training is required, all are welcome! The class will meet online via Zoom, and participants are also invited to meet online one-on-one with an SBDC business consultant during and after the course for specific and continued training and support.

Professional Development Statement: Child care providers can earn professional development hours through the Professional Development Information System (PDIS) by attending all training sessions. A recorded option and follow-up with the trainer are available if you have to miss a live class. Consulting sessions with the instructor are also eligible for points towards your Colorado Shines quality rating.  Read more here.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 5.1.2 Business Practices.

 

Home-Based Child Care Business Training Program (Larimer SBDC) - In Spanish

When: October 19 - November 23, 2022 on Wednesdays from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Where: Virtual

Cost: Free

Register here: https://larimersbdc.org/entrenamiento-para-negocios-de-cuidado-de-ninos-basados-en-casa/

Target Audiences: Home-based child care providers

Course description and objectives: You will learn techniques and strategies to better manage the finances, marketing, and operations to run your home-based business.

  • Establish your business model
  • Learn to maximize your income and minimize your expenses
  • Understand the costs of operating a child care center
  • Understand how to use social media to promote your business

You must attend all 6 classes to receive professional credit hours.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 5.1.2 Business Practices.

 

Center-Based Child Care Business Training Program (Aurora-South Metro SBDC)

When: October 4 - November 8 on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Online 

Cost: Free

Register here: https://bit.ly/3zowr3a - Must pre-register to receive the link to the webinar.

Target Audience: Child Care Centers

Description: Learn how to run your center-based child care program more effectively. Also, learn to manage the finances, marketing, and business operations of your center

Objectives:

  • Evaluate where you can improve your business model
  • Understand your financial documents for better decision making
  • Improve your HR policies and procedures for hiring and retention
  • Understand how to maximize website, marketing, and social media to promote your business
  • Learn about grant funding, licensing resources, insurance, and legal matters that affect your business

Must attend all six classes to earn professional development credit hours.

This course is eligible for PDIS credit. Full participation in the course is required to receive credit. Consulting sessions with the instructor are also eligible for points towards your Colorado Shines quality rating.  Read more here.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 5.1.2 Business Practices. 

 

Business Supports for Child Care Providers/Apoyos comerciales para proveedores de cuidado infantil

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) are continuing to enhance the business acumen of licensed child care providers. Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) across the state will offer business training courses to licensed child care providers at no cost. The following SBDCs will offer training in 2022: Aurora South-Metro, Boulder, Denver Metro, East, Pikes Peak, North Metro, Southeast, Southern, and West Central. The training courses will be offered virtually to providers around the state, but may include content specific to the community in which the SBDC is housed. Most training will be focused on one of the following target populations: child care centers, family child care homes, or programs interested in starting up or expanding. Additionally, at least two trainings will be conducted in Spanish. Trainings will include 4-6 sessions covering business best practices. 

In addition to the training, SBDC consultants around the state are available to work with licensed providers for one-on-one consultation on business needs, such as building a budget or seeking financial support (e.g. grants, PPP loans). Consultation is now available at no cost in English and Spanish. Click here to register for an appointment today!

Current Training Opportunities/Oportunidades de formación actuales:

Budgeting, Cash Flow, and Taxes for Child Care Providers (West Central SBDC): If you dream about taking a paid two-week vacation each year but your child care business hasn't quite gotten you there yet, you won't want to miss this on-demand series. Learn how to leverage cash flow as a financial planning tool, start making better business decisions, and begin planning your vacation while earning professional development hours in the PDIS system! 9-session, self-paced webinar series with one-on-one support from SBDC consultants. Participants can earn professional development hours through the Colorado Shines Professional Development Information System (PDIS) by completing all 9 modules and checking their understanding at a minimum of 2 consultation sessions.  Participants who meet these requirements will receive a survey to capture their PDIS user information. This training is designed for in-home and small facility providers. Click here to register!

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 5.1.2 Business Practices. 
 
Child Development Associate Scholarships/Becas para asociados en desarrollo infantil

The Office of Early Childhood, in partnership with Red Rocks Community College and Mesa County Public Health, has released the application for Child Development Associate (CDA) Scholarships for new CDA candidates and renewal candidates. Funding will support training costs and assessment fees for approximately 220 new CDA candidates and assessment fees for approximately 70 candidates. Advisors will be available to help candidates find a training program that meets CDA requirements and assist with the creation of their portfolio for final assessment. Visit the Red Rocks Child Care Innovations website or contact Julia Brink (julia.brink@rrcc.edu) for more information. The next round of application review will open in August 2022. 

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 6.2.2 CDA Scholarship.

Engage and Support Families

Colorado's Preschool Development Grant is committed to supporting parents and caregivers. The following activities represent work under the Colorado Shines Brighter Strategic Plan Goal 3: Maximize Family Knowledge, Engagement and Support.

Colorado's NEW Early Childhood Family Engagement Framework
The new Colorado Early Childhood Family Engagement Framework (Framework) identifies important family engagement concepts to be applied across early childhood sectors and agencies to support the vision that all Colorado children and families be valued, healthy and thriving. The Framework will help entities engaging with families organize their thinking and to mobilize action. It provides an anchor to which organizations and individuals can align their own strategies and activities.

View or download the Framework report, interactive two-pager, and family engagement graphic by clicking on the links.

The Framework was developed through a collaborative effort led by the Office of Early Childhood with the support of the Early Childhood Leadership Commission, funded by the state’s Preschool Development Grant Birth-Five.

New Early Childhood Mental Health Support Line 

A new resource from the State of Colorado is being made available to parents, providers, and professionals who work with young children. 

The Early Childhood Mental Health Support Line is a no-cost, confidential resource for anyone who cares for children under six. The support line helps families and caregivers to better understand and support the mental and emotional wellbeing of young children in their care. Trained mental health consultants provide support for parents and professionals so they can support young children’s social-emotional development, address behavioral questions or concerns, and connect caregivers to resources in their community.

To connect with an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, click here to fill out the online form or call the ECMH Support Line at (833) ECMH411 Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to speak directly to a consultant.

Your organization plays an important role in helping young children across Colorado thrive. The support line is a free resource that can help your community promote early childhood mental health, which provides benefits for a lifetime. A communication toolkit was developed to help spread the word about the Support Line with those who care for young children. We are grateful for your commitment and partnership to ensuring Colorado’s children are valued, healthy and thriving! 

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 2.2.2 ECMH Support Line and Teleconsultation.

Share The PLAYbook with parents and caregivers in your community!

The PLAYbook contains information and activities that anyone caring for young children – including parents, siblings, guardians, grandparents, babysitters, neighbors, and family friends - can use to prepare children to be successful when entering kindergarten. The PLAYbook is designed to get parents and caregivers thinking about building children's skills in the locations where they spend time together, using what they may already have around their home through play. The PLAYbook is available in English, Spanish , Arabic, Karen (Burmese), and Somali. The digital version allows users to download the document, take notes, use checklists, and engage with interactive tools! Access the communications toolkit to share The PLAYbook! Contact Amanda Culbertson at Amanda.Culbertson@state.co.us with questions.

Support Transitions to Kindergarten this Fall

Children and families make the transition to kindergarten every year, however the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic make this fall different. Across Colorado, there was a dramatic drop in kindergarten enrollment in 2020, signaling that many children will be experiencing a delayed start to kindergarten this year. The key to successful transitions is that both “sides” of the transition are engaged—early care and education (ECE) programs (the “sending” side) and elementary schools (the “receiving” side). Given the circumstances, it is especially critical this year that both sides work together to help children and families experience a smooth transition to kindergarten. 

Two recently developed resources can help in this effort. This brief authored by the Colorado Department of Education describes key policies and research about kindergarten enrollment. This tool developed by the National P-3 Center (en español) provides a timeline and checklist of activities for ECE programs and elementary schools to support transitions.

In partnership with the National P-3 Center, the Office of Early Childhood and the Preschool through Third Grade Office developed the following briefs exploring practices that contribute to successful transitions to kindergarten for children and families, and strategies ECE programs and elementary schools in Colorado can implement and support:

This work is responsive to Colorado Shines Brighter strategies 1.3.1 Transitions Toolkit, and 1.3.2 Transitions Roadmap.

Resources for Local Partners

Consultative Roles Supporting Early Care & Education Professionals
Consultative professionals are individuals who invest in relationships with caregiving adults so that those adults can engage more fully in their relationships with infants, toddlers, and families. Consultative Roles that might support the care settings in your community include Early Childhood Coaches, Child Care Health Consultants, Child and Adult Care Food Program Sponsors, and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants. While none of these roles work directly with children, each one has a responsibility toward ensuring ECE professionals have the support they need to focus where it matters - with children and families. Check out this new resource that describes each consultative role in more detail and provides links to find professionals in your community.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 6.1.2 Consultative Roles Alignment. 

Transitions to Kindergarten in Colorado: A Roadmap

The 2019 Colorado Shines Brighter Needs Assessment highlighted the need to increase transition knowledge and associated support for both senders and receivers across the state’s B-5 mixed delivery system. Beginning in 2019, the CDHS Office of Early Childhood (OEC) partnered with the CDE Preschool through Third Grade Office (P-3 Office) to engage the National P-3 Center (NP-3C) to identify strategies and tools to support children, their families, and early care and education and K-12 professionals as children transition to kindergarten.

In 2021, the NP-3C finalized the report, Transitions to Kindergarten in Colorado: A Roadmap. The Roadmap identifies eight strategies addressing state and local opportunities to improve cross-sector collaboration, with a focus on the policy levers that can be enacted to support transitions. The Roadmap was endorsed by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission in February 2022, as a framework to systematically ensure more children in every community across the state benefit from effective and culturally and linguistically responsive supports as they move from early childhood experiences into kindergarten.

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 1.3.2 Transitions Roadmap.

Colorado Office of Early Childhood Launches Early Childhood Mental Health Support Line 

A new resource from the State of Colorado is being made available to parents, providers, and professionals who work with young children. 

The Early Childhood Mental Health Support Line is a no-cost, confidential resource for anyone who cares for children under six. The support line helps families and caregivers to better understand and support the mental and emotional wellbeing of young children in their care. Trained mental health consultants provide support for parents and professionals so they can support young children’s social-emotional development, address behavioral questions or concerns, and connect caregivers to resources in their community.

To connect with an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, click here to fill out the online form or call the ECMH Support Line at (833) ECMH411 Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to speak directly to a consultant.

Your organization plays an important role in helping young children across Colorado thrive. The support line is a free resource that can help your community promote early childhood mental health, which provides benefits for a lifetime. A communication toolkit was developed to help spread the word about the Support Line with those who care for young children. We are grateful for your commitment and partnership to ensuring Colorado’s children are valued, healthy and thriving! 

This work is responsive to the Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 2.2.2 ECMH Support Line and Teleconsultation.

Colorado EI Early Start - Model Development Final Report

The Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) is excited to share the Colorado EI Early Start - Model Development Final Report. This report details the recommendations of a broad stakeholder group regarding how the proposed new program should be structured.  

In July 2020, Colorado, like many states, faced fiscal pressures due to the pandemic, resulting in the difficult decision to change the eligibility criteria for the Early Intervention Colorado program as part of cost containment measures. Through emergency rulemaking, the OEC initiated the eligibility change and then worked with stakeholders to add additional definitions which led to the development of the Early Intervention Early Start (EI Early Start) program for those children and families who do not meet the revised eligibility criteria or who may have identified risk factors.  Over the last several months, a group of stakeholders - informed by parent, provider, and community organization input - have been working on developing the EI Early Start model. Materials from the Early Start work group can be found here.

The Report details the work group's recommendations on the following aspects of the program model: 

  • eligibility criteria and definition of risk factor; 
  • referral, marketing and outreach strategies; 
  • service delivery and care navigation;  
  • program costs, financing and payment methods;
  • data collection and performance evaluation criteria; and
  • program name.

In addition to recommendations, the report includes information about the data collected to inform the decision-making process; themes from work group discussions; and potential implementation barriers and strategies to overcome them. A one-page overview of the report can be found here.

As a next step, CDEC will be seeking funding for the proposed EI Early Start program. A request to help fund the establishment of the program was included in the Governor’s budget request.  You can read about that here.  We hope you enjoy reading about this innovative, important new program to ensure all children are healthy, valued and thriving.

This work is responsive to Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 4.1.8 Early Start Model Development.

Collaboration and Coordination Tools for Local Entities

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is excited to announce the release of two new tools to support local entities in increasing collaboration and coordination in their local birth through five systems to improve outcomes for families.  

Collaboration & Coordination Tools:

  • Collaboration Guide: Family Resource Centers (FRCs) and Early Childhood Councils (ECCs) (Collaboration Guide): This guide includes an overview of the benefits and modes of collaboration between ECCs and FRCs; strategies to begin collaborating; and a variety of other resources to sustain and deepen collaborative relationships that benefit children and families.  While written for ECCs and FRCs, it has applicability to other local organizations that partner with them.  The Collaboration Guide was developed through a facilitated workgroup including the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance, Family Resource Center Association, ECCs, FRCs and the OEC.
  • Local Early Childhood Systems Coordination Toolkit (Coordination Toolkit): This toolkit was created for local entities - county human/social services or health departments, school districts, ECCs, FRCs, and other non-profits - to spur thought and action around better coordinating their local early childhood system to improve service delivery to families. It includes examples of coordinated systems from around Colorado and tools to help localities plan similar efforts.  

For more information on the strategies that led to the creation of the Collaboration Guide and Coordination Toolkit, see strategies 1.2.1 and 1.2.4 in the Colorado Shines Brighter Strategic Plan.

Support Children and Families' Transitions to Kindergarten this Fall 

Children and families make the transition to kindergarten every year, however the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic make this fall different. Across Colorado, there was a dramatic drop in kindergarten enrollment in 2020, signaling that many children will be experiencing a delayed start to kindergarten this year. The key to successful transitions is that both “sides” of the transition are engaged—early care and education (ECE) programs (the “sending” side) and elementary schools (the “receiving” side). Given the circumstances, it is especially critical this year that both sides work together to help children and families experience a smooth transition to kindergarten. 

Two recently developed resources can help in this effort. This brief authored by the Colorado Department of Education describes key policies and research about kindergarten enrollment. This tool developed by the National P-3 Center (en español) provides a timeline and checklist of activities for ECE programs and elementary schools to support transitions.

In partnership with the National P-3 Center, the Office of Early Childhood and the Preschool through Third Grade Office developed the following briefs exploring practices that contribute to successful transitions to kindergarten for children and families, and strategies ECE programs and elementary schools in Colorado can implement and support:

This work is responsive to Colorado Shines Brighter strategies 1.3.1 Transitions Toolkit and 1.3.2 Transitions Roadmap.

Assess Community-level Needs for Different Modalities of Early Childhood Mental Health Support

The Right Mix to Support Social-Emotional Health in Early Childhood, an ECMH guidance document for community-based organizations to use in selecting and strengthening their range of available early childhood social and emotional health supports and resources. The guide helps users to understand their community’s need, identify gaps, and identify which programs, curricula, and training professionals might meet those needs. The guide will be distributed to Early Childhood Councils, Family Resource Centers, Community Centered Boards and Community Mental Health Clinics.

This resource is responsive to Colorado Shines Brighter Goal 2.

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Support Line

This fall families and providers who may be feeling overwhelmed by the year ahead, or simply want to know more about how to support the children in their care, are able to connect with a live, qualified consultant Monday-Friday (10:30a-5:30p) who can provide brief consultation, create a new referral and/or connect caregivers to additional resources to support children’s developing social, emotional and mental health. This resource was created to increase equitable, statewide access to early childhood mental health information, resources and referrals and is available statewide at no cost. Want to know more? Call the Support Line 303-866-4202 to learn how this new resource can support you in your role! 

The Educator Well-being Support Line is also available to early care and education providers Monday-Friday 9-7, Saturday 9-11 am; Sunday 4-7 pm (Call or text 303-724-2500).  This line was established by CU’s Department of Psychiatry during the pandemic to create a space for venting, validation, problem solving, and access to therapy. View the flyer or learn more here.

This work is responsive to Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 2.2.2.

New Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Communication Materials

The Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) is thrilled to share a variety of tools to help communicate the benefits and services provided by Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) ECMH consultants. First, there is the new CDEC webpage which allows both families and providers to quickly locate a consultant in their area or sign up for consultation through the online referral. Second, a suite of materials that can be used by consultants to advertise their services in their area including a customizable overview flyer, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and customizable consultant bio were developed (Spanish coming soon!). Finally, the Colorado Shines website features a brief, accessible animated video highlighting the impact of Early Childhood Mental Consultation: Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation – The Results Are Extraordinary (click to view in Spanish). Share these new resources with your network to promote strong, positive mental health in your area today!

This work is responsive to Colorado Shines Brighter strategy 2.1.3.

About Colorado Shines Brighter

The Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) grants support states in their efforts to analyze the current landscape of their early childhood education mixed delivery system and implement changes to the system that maximize the availability of high-quality early childhood care and education options for low-income and disadvantaged families across providers and partners, improve the quality of care, streamline administrative infrastructure, and improve state-level early childhood care and education funding efficiencies.

In December 2018, Colorado was awarded a $5.8 million initial PDG B-5 from the US Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the US Department of Education. This funding was made available under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and is targeted to help states build a quality early learning system for children birth to 5 and their families. The initial PDG B-5 project period began December 31, 2018, and ended February 29, 2020. View Colorado's application and revised budget. View the full list of activities from the initial grant period and access project reports HERE

In December 2019, Colorado was awarded a PDG B-5 Renewal of $11,171,969 per year for three years (2020-2022). Renewal grant funds will be used to implement activities identified in the Colorado Shines Brighter Strategic Plan to maximize the number of high-quality early care and education options available to families, especially families identified as vulnerable and underserved such as those living in rural areas, families of infants and toddlers, and families of children with special needs. View Colorado's renewal application and revised budget. A summary of grant activities can be found HERE.

Colorado Shines Brighter (PDG B-5) is based on the state's shared vision to ensure all children are ready for school when entering kindergarten by achieving three outcomes:

  1. Colorado families have access to quality formal early childhood care and education settings of their choosing which best meet the need of their child and family, especially those who are vulnerable and infants and toddlers.
  2. Informal early childhood care and education environments (parental, friend, family, and neighbor care) are enhanced to enrich and support children’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.
  3. Colorado’s B-5 early childhood state system is coordinated and aligned to enhance the resources available to families and to improve the quality of relationships among families, caregivers, and children.
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Colorado Shines Brighter Statewide Strategic Plan and the PDG renewal grant activities?

The responsibility of caring for Colorado’s youngest children is shared between parents, caregivers, early childhood professionals, program administrators, policymakers, advocates and other stakeholders across public and private organizations and agencies at the state and local levels. The Colorado Shines Brighter Birth through Five Strategic Plan, 2020-2025 was developed in partnership with these stakeholders to support aligned and coordinated efforts to ensure all children are valued, healthy and thriving. The strategic plan is endorsed by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission (ECLC) as the statewide birth through five systems strategic plan. Progress made on the strategic plan will be tracked and communicated by the ECLC.

The PDG Renewal provides federal funding of up to $11,171,969 per year for three years (2020-2022). The funds will be used to implement activities identified in the strategic plan to maximize the number of high-quality early care and education options available to families, especially families identified as vulnerable and underserved such as those living in rural areas, families of infants and toddlers, and families of children with special needs. 

How will progress on the PDG Renewal be communicated to the public?

View outcomes from the initial PDG B-5 here.

You can track the progress made on the PDG Renewal the following ways:

  • Sign up for the monthly Colorado Shines Brighter newsletter.
  • Attend Early Childhood Leadership Commission Program Quality and Alignment (PQA) Subcommittee meetings. PQA Subcommittee meetings are used by the CDEC to provide communication on the grant, provide members and the general public an opportunity to provide feedback and share best practices on grant implementation. Visit the PQA Subcommittee web page for more information, including meeting agendas, minutes, and supporting documents. 

 
What does it mean for a child to be ready for school when entering kindergarten?

School readiness describes both the preparedness of a child to engage in and benefit from learning experiences, and the ability of a school to meet the learning needs of all students. School readiness is enhanced when schools, families, and community service providers work collaboratively to ensure that support exists for higher levels of learning for every child. Colorado embraces the philosophy of “Ready child, ready family, ready community, ready school.”
 
What does mixed delivery system mean in the context of the PDG?

A mixed delivery system is a system of early childhood care and education services that are delivered through a combination of programs, providers, and settings, such as Head Start, licensed family and center-based child care programs, public schools, and other community-based organizations, that is supported by a combination of public and private funds.
 
What is the goal for alignment and how will you measure success?

The PDG B-5 asked states to develop a statewide strategic plan that, among other requirements, “Recommend[s] partnership, collaboration, coordination, and quality improvement activities and opportunities that can leverage existing resources to improve coordination, policy alignment, program quality and service delivery, across early childhood care and education programs in the B-5 Early Childhood State System, including activities to improve children's transition from early childhood care and education programs into elementary schools.”
 
The Colorado Shines Brighter Birth through Five Strategic Plan identifies six goals including Goal 1: Colorado’s birth through five early childhood system is coordinated and aligned to enhance resources available to families and to improve the quality of relationships between families and providers. Success will be measured by the extent to which state and local systems partners align and coordinate their services. More detail may be found in the Strategic Plan.
 
What enhancements will be made to Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)?

The Colorado Shines Brighter Birth through Five Strategic Plan identifies several strategies to explore and enhance the state's QRIS framework, policies and provider supports including:

  • 4.1.3 Local Impact Study. Study local Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) and Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) policies for the impact on ECE providers and families, including how new reimbursement rate policies have impacted family participation and access to high-quality ECE programs, and implement indicated changes.
  • 6.1.1 Colorado Shines Updates. Continue to retool the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for the Environmental Rating Scale 3 (ERS 3) and implement other tools. Support more ratings, including alternative pathways, through an increase in rating assessors. Incorporate stakeholder workgroup findings into the QRIS Framework, including an increased emphasis on cultural and linguistic responsiveness. Complete a validation study in 2022.
  • 6.1.2 Consultative Roles Alignment. Review key consultative roles, including Expanding Quality in Infant Toddler Care (EQIT) Specialist Network, ECMH Consultants, Colorado Shines QRIS Coaches, and Child Care Health Consultants, to ensure coordination and collaboration between roles. Identify qualifications and ongoing professional development supports to ensure individuals are equipped to support quality practices within licensed ECE programs.
  • 6.2.3 Coaching. Pilot a state ECE coaching model including Colorado Shines QRIS and EQIT. Increase staff to meet the needs of known coaching deserts and provide additional meetings and formal supports for coaches. Update courses, transcreate coaching materials, and explore a telehealth approach to coaching. 

The PDG references quality improvement for licensed and license-exempt care; how will license-exempt care be included in the activities?

The PDG B-5 emphasizes family choice in the state's mixed-delivery system. The Colorado Shines Brighter: Opportunities for Colorado’s Early Childhood System (Full Report) increased our understanding of families' early care and education preferences. As a result of these findings, the Colorado Shines Brighter Birth through Five Strategic Plan includes strategies to improve the quality two settings:

  • Formal Early Care and Education Environments: Early care and learning settings licensed by the state for the primary purpose of providing regular child care. These include preschools, centers, and homes.
  • Informal Early Care and Education Environments: Care provided in the child or caregiver’s home by a person who is a relative, friend, neighbor, babysitter, or nanny. These settings operate within state guidelines, which allow them to be exempt from regulations. May also be referred   to as Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) care.

Many of the strategies supporting informal early care and education environments are identified in the Colorado Shines Brighter Birth through Five Strategic Plan under Goal 3 Maximize Family Knowledge and Engagement: Children and families that enter the system through one program are offered meaningful and relevant services throughout the system.
 
What is the ROOTs Early Childhood Mental Health Training Program?

The OEC contracted with Dr. Sarah Watamura to provide Roots events as well as Branches and Seedlings certification opportunities. Dr. Watamura is the co-director of the Stress Early Experience & Development Research Center, associate professor and chair in the Department of Psychology at the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Denver. In 2019, Dr. Watamura and her team provided training in the Roots curriculum (an intensive, experiential trauma processing and stress reduction workshop) to ECMHC professionals across Colorado. These participants are now eligible for certification as Branches or Seedling trainers. Certified trainers are able to deliver trauma and stress reduction programs for early care and education teachers (Branches) and parents (Seedlings). The knowledge and skills provided within these trainings will equip ECMHC professionals with tools necessary to partner successfully with child care providers and community members on trauma, adversity and resilience.

What are the commonly used acronyms involved the PDG work? 

  • CCCAP – Colorado Child Care Assistance Program
  • CCR&R – Child Care Resource and Referral
  • CDEC - Colorado Department of Early Childhood
  • CDE – Colorado Department of Education
  • CDHS – Colorado Department of Human Services
  • CHP+ – Child Health Plan Plus
  • ECC – Early Childhood Councils
  • ECE – Early Childhood Education
  • ECLC – Early Childhood Leadership Commission
  • ECMH– Early Childhood Mental Health 
  • ECWD - Early Childhood Workforce Development Subcommittee
  • ELDG – Early Learning & Development Guidelines
  • ERS – Environmental Ratings Scale
  • FCCH – Family Child Care Homes
  • FCCRS – Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale
  • FFN – Family, Friend and Neighbor care
  • FRC – Family Resource Centers
  • LAUNCH – Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health
  • MIECHV – Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting
  • OEC – Office of Early Childhood
  • PDG – Preschool Development Grant
  • PDIS –  Professional Development Information System
  • PQA – Program, Quality & Alignment Subcommittee
  • QRIS – Quality Rating and Improvement System
  • RFA – Request for Application
  • RFP – Request for Proposal

 

Questions? Contact the Preschool Development Grant Unit:

Department of Early Childhood, CDEC
1575 Sherman Street, 1st Floor
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 1-800-799-5876 or 303-866-5948
cdhs_pdg@state.co.us 
Sign up for the Colorado Shines Brighter newsletter.

The project described is supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative (PDG B-5), Grant Number 90TP0054, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

PDG B-5 Initial Grant Strategies and Deliverables

Activity 1. Statewide Birth through Five Needs Assessment

Statewide Birth through Five Needs Assessment

Colorado built upon existing needs assessments and conducted additional research to address five key questions: 1. what do we have, 2. what do families want, 3. where is there not enough, 4. who is not getting enough, and 5. why is there not enough across the state's early childhood system.

This work resulted in the 2019 needs assessment, Colorado Shines Brighter: Opportunities for Colorado’s Early Childhood System (Full Report). Key findings are highlighted in Colorado Shines Brighter: Opportunities for Colorado’s Early Childhood System (Brief). The OEC engaged the Colorado Health Institute to support this project.

Activity 2. Statewide Birth through Five Strategic Plan

Statewide Birth through Five Strategic Plan

Colorado developed a five-year strategic plan to ensure all Colorado children are ready for school when entering kindergarten by utilizing the needs assessment information and data; aligning existing state and local strategic plans and frameworks; building on existing initiatives and foundational systems; and broadly including stakeholders across Colorado’s mixed delivery system. Colorado Shines Brighter Birth through Five Strategic Plan, 2020-2025 and a summary report, Colorado Shines Brighter Birth through Five Strategic Plan, At a Glance, were endorsed by the state advisory council, the Early Childhood Leadership Commission, in December 2019.  The OEC engaged Child Trends, in partnership with Early Milestones Colorado and Marzano Research, to support this project.

OEC IT Solutions Roadmap

The Office of Early Childhood (OEC) developed an Information Technology Roadmap to inform future enhancements or technology builds and maximize users' experiences for OEC IT systems. The OEC engaged Bloom Consulting to support this project. Following the completion of the Roadmap, the OEC began to work with the Governor's Office of Information Technology and IT vendors to identify and implement a number of enhancements that could be completed within the initial grant project period. Additionally, the OEC utilized this time to begin defining business requirements that will inform contracts and projects for the renewal grant period.

Increase Engagement in System-wide Transition Planning

In June 2019, the state’s 6th annual Early Childhood Summit focused on supporting the transition process between sending and receiving environments for children and families. Dr. Beth Rous, of the University of Kentucky, led sessions addressing practices and strategies to improve transitions across environments, programs and communities. The Summit demonstrated a desire from local partners to engage more deeply in local transition planning. To address this need, the OEC and the Colorado Department of Education Preschool through Third Grade Office (P-3 Office) sponsored the Building Bridges Transitions Summit in February 2020. Eight teams, each consisting of individuals representing local school districts, Head Start grantees, and other ECE mixed-delivery system partners, participated in a self-assessment followed by a two-day transition planning event led by Dr. Rous. Summit objectives included identifying opportunities and challenges for supporting transitions across agencies/programs; identifying child and family outcomes to guide collaborative transition planning; selecting common transitions strategies and practices across agencies/programs; and assessing community gaps in transition practices and agreeing upon new practices to address the gaps.

Family Access and Early Care and Education (ECE) Provider Matrices

The OEC developed two matrices intended to identify areas where the state can improve alignment, coordination, and collaboration among programs for purposes of increasing access to high-quality ECE programs of parents’ choice for: infants and toddlers; children in rural, urban and tribal communities; low-income, homeless, immigrant, refugee, and migrant children; children from families of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds; children with special needs; children affected by trauma; children of teen parents; children whose families work, are involved in the child welfare system, or are in the military. The matrices explore the same programs from the perspective of family access and provider operations

Activity 3. Maximizing Parent Choice and Knowledge

Create a “No Wrong Door” Entry Point to Early Childhood and Family Support Programs 

The OEC engaged SE2 to develop aligned messages, materials and outreach strategies to improve the connections between families and the B-5 system; increase parents’ engagement in their child’s development; and leverage quality relationships with trusted community resources and messengers. With the support of the Early Childhood Leadership Commission Communications Subcommittee, the following activities were completed:

  • Stakeholder Engagement. SE2 conducted interviews with early childhood stakeholders across the state to gather diverse perspectives on the best role for the OEC when it comes to supporting outreach to parents and caregivers of young children across the state. The process resulted in several recommendations, including that the State establish an online resource hub. These recommendations served to help shape CDHS’s communications and engagement project plan for subsequent years of the PDG project. View the summary report.
  • Message Development and Refinement. SE2 curated and refined existing messages, developed new messages, and enhanced existing messages on the Shared Message Bank
  • Market Research with Colorado Parents and Caregivers. The goals for the research included assessing the effectiveness of OEC messages to inspire action, build awareness and change behavior; and gathering insights into the content and presentation of content that is most relevant and interesting to Colorado parents and primary caregivers. View the summary report.

Engaging Trusted Messengers via Bright By Text

SE2 created materials to help CDEC’s partners across the state inform parents and caregivers about the Bright by Text resource and help partners leverage the tool to inform parents in their community about local events, resources and programs. To accomplish this, CDEC is providing partners with the tools and information that they need to encourage parents in their community to sign up to receive tips by text via the Bright by Text program, and use the Bright by Text tool to send targeted messages to parents in their community about events, programs and resources available locally.  Access the Communications Plan for Local Outreach and the Bright by Text Toolkit.

Update the Colorado Early Learning & Development Guidelines

The Colorado Early Learning and Development Guidelines (Guidelines) were originally developed and approved by the Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission in 2011. This updated 2019 iteration was specifically designed to maximize parental choice and knowledge as part of the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five. As part of this project the  Guidelines were aligned with the 2020 Colorado Academic Standards and the 2015 Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (HSELOF). Additionally, the updated Guidelines are informed by current and relevant research and best practices concerning children’s development, including social emotional and behavioral issues and early childhood mental health as well as physical health and development, particularly healthy eating and physical activity. The updated version also includes additional support for interactions between parent/child, teacher/parent, and teacher/child for all ages. Finally, the updated Guidelines include enhanced content focused on transitions between stages of children’s development, including best practices to support transitions for each age group and relate to typical transitions that would occur for children at these various times.

Throughout the update process, stakeholders from a wide variety of agencies and sectors were involved, including representatives from the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Department of Public Health Environment, Colorado Department of Human Services, Head Start, local child care providers, higher education, early learning professionals, and others. An Advisory Board met numerous times to ensure the resulting guidelines reflect a strong research base, enhance working early childhood systems in Colorado, and meet the needs of diverse audiences and purposes. The Guidelines were reviewed and advised by state experts with knowledge of early childhood development and teaching practice, as well as specific content areas.

The Guidelines website, book and associated materials were updated to reflect these changes and increase accessibility, including the creation of an online, searchable version of the Guidelines and new videos focusing on transitions and parents' experiences. The OEC engaged Marzano Research to update and develop new Guidelines content and Network Affiliates to produce new videos, update the book and optimize the website.

Activity 4. Sharing Best Practices among State Early Care and Learning Providers

Assess and Make Recommendations to the Colorado Competencies for Early Childhood Educators and Administrators, the Early Childhood Professional Credential, Early Childhood Professional Qualifications, and the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Framework

The OEC, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education and Government Performance Solutions (vendor), developed a process to define issues, identify potential solutions, and craft specific recommendations to improve Colorado’s early childhood systems. Workgroups consisting of highly-qualified and representative stakeholders were created to focus on system factors that drive quality outcomes for children, promote effective workforce development, and develop agile and powerful systems to support Colorado’s early childhood landscape. The workgroups developed sets of recommendations including initiatives that are quickly actionable and those that require further investigation, discussion, and planning. View the summary report
 
Initiate a Retooling Process to Transition from Environment Rating Scales (ERS) to the ERS-3

The OEC partnered with Clayton Early Learning to support the successful state-wide implementation of the third editions of the Environment Rating Scales (ERS-3) as part of the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System. This work entailed development and planning, training implementation, reliability of Colorado Shines Assessors and the Inter-Rater Reliability (IRR Core) Team, double codes for continuous practice, and certification of Colorado Shines coaches. 
 
Mine and Analyze Data to Inform Training and Technical Assistance Plans for Child Care Licensing, Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) and Colorado Shines

The OEC initiated a research partnership with the Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver to collect and analyze data to inform long-term training and technical assistance plans for ECE stakeholders participating in OEC programs. In addition to analyzing administrative data from the Colorado Shines QRIS, Colorado Shines PDIS, child care licensing, and OEC help desk, the Butler Institute for Families surveyed licensed child care providers serving children B-5, Colorado Shines coaches and quality navigators, and families participating in the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) to inform the OEC's strategies to increase engagement in the Colorado Shines QRIS and PDIS, CCCAP, and Child Care Licensing. The strategy resulted in the following reports: Administrative Data Analysis, Colorado Child Care Assistance Program Family Survey, Coach/Navigators Survey, and the Child Care Provider Survey.

Develop New Course Offerings on the Colorado Shines Professional Development and Information System (PDIS)

The OEC launched 13.5 hours of new, self-paced eLearning coursework on the Colorado Shines PDIS: Positive Guidance Sequence (3.5 hrs), Infant and Toddler Care Sequence (3 hrs), Standard Precautions (available in English and Spanish) (1.5 hrs), Supporting Successful Program Transitions to Increase School Readiness (1 hr), Working with Your Child Care Health Consultant (1 hr), and a Licensing Orientation (3.5 hrs). More than 10,400 course completions occurred between January and May 2020 on these courses. These Colorado Shines PDIS courses are offered on-demand at no cost to ECE professionals and other users. View a more details HERE.

Analyze the Organizational Capacity and Alignment of Early Childhood Councils and Family Resource Centers

The OEC partnered with the state’s Early Childhood Councils (ECCs) and Family Resource Centers (FRCs) to analyze the intended role of each agency, determine if the agencies functioned in a way to address their intended role, and better understand the level of coordination across agencies and with the OEC. Findings informed recommendations for collaboration and statewide investments that will be considered in partnership with ECCs, and FRCs, and their membership organizations (Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance and Family Resource Center Association).

Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) Contract for Slots Pilot Project

With contracted slots, CCCAP payments are made to providers on a monthly basis, which gives them more consistent cash flow and financial security. Early Milestones Colorado conducted a study to assess the benefits and costs for families, providers, and county and state administrators of the contracted slots approach during a six-month pilot in three counties (Arapahoe, Denver and Gunnison). Early Milestones also provided support for implementation, coordinating the pilot’s advisory group, and synthesized and disseminated findings and recommendations to help expand the approach. While challenges remain, the pilot showed the potential that contracted slots hold for increased access to quality child care. 

Augment the Growing Readers Together Model

In 2016, the Colorado State Library implemented Growing Readers Together (GRT). The program provides support to local public libraries as they identify, locate and build partnerships with friend, family and neighbor caregivers in their communities. Through connection with their local public library, these caregivers can better support the early literacy development of young children. In 2019, PDG-I funded an Early Literacy Team consisting of three regional specialists who provided workshops and consultations for ten library systems, produced webinars, and presented at the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy conference and regional Youth Services Workshops. 

Pilot Home Visiting Programs in Family Child Care Homes (Licensed and License-exempt)

The OEC launched the Home Visiting for Family Child Care Homes (FCCH) Pilot Program designed to 1) improve school readiness for children by strengthening caregiver-child interactions; 2) increase FCCH provider education and knowledge; and 3) identify augmentations to effectively support FCCH providers and the families they serve. In 2019, five non-profit agencies certified in the evidenced-based home visiting models of Parents as Teachers (PAT) and/or Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) participated. Home visitors met with FCCH providers in their homes, provided training materials and activity packs, and hosted networking sessions for providers to meet one another. Forty-five FCCH providers, serving 230 children, participated in the pilot. Initial highlights revealed more positive interactions between providers and the children and families they serve; increased connections among often-isolated providers and community resources; and more confidence by FCCH providers’ in their knowledge of child development. The pilot project will continue through 2020, followed by a case study in 2021. 

Implement the Roots© Early Childhood Mental Health Training Program

The OEC partnered with Sarah Enos Watamura, Ph.D. and her team to train 54 publicly- and privately-funded early childhood mental health (ECMH) consultation professionals on the Roots© curriculum. Roots©, the initial curriculum in a train-the-trainer approach, is a 3-day intensive, experiential trauma processing and stress reduction training that equips participants with the knowledge and skills to partner successfully with caregivers and community members on trauma, adversity, and resilience. ECMH professionals trained in Roots© can be deployed to local communities to provide ongoing best practice training on these topics. Utilization of the Roots© model by Colorado was designed to 1) enhance participants’ understanding of how adversity and trauma impact health and how to prevent its transmission; 2) support local deployment and long-term sustainability due to the train-the-trainer approach; and 3) reduce stress and burnout to retain the current ECMH consultation workforce. View the report

Explore an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Warmline and Telehealth

The OEC studied viable options to form an ECMH warmline to increase awareness of ECMH consultation and improve ECE providers’ access to ECMH services. Based on existing need, the recommended approach is for the OEC to manage the warmline internally, staffing it with ECMH consultants/specialists. As awareness or demand for services increase, the OEC may need to partner with 2-1-1 or another partner to support this growth.
Publicly- and privately-funded ECMH consultation professionals participated in a telehealth readiness survey to inform barriers and opportunities to expanding access to ECMH consultation using live video visits. Responses revealed concerns regarding access to, ease of use, and the security of video conferencing technology. Concerns were also raised about the efficacy of ECMH consultation due to the inability to build rapport, coach, model, or demonstrate strategies. Despite concerns, professionals expressed a desire for training and technical assistance to begin offering video visits.

Assess Community-level Needs for Different Modalities of Early Childhood Mental Health Support

The OEC secured a vendor to research and create The Right Mix to Support Social-Emotional Health in Early Childhood, an early childhood mental health guidance document for community-based organizations to use in selecting and strengthening their range of available early childhood social and emotional health supports and resources. The guide helps users to understand their community’s need, identify gaps, and identify which programs, curricula, and training professionals might meet those needs. The guide will be distributed to Early Childhood Councils, Family Resource Centers, Community Centered Boards and Community Mental Health Clinics.

Activity 5. Improve the Overall Quality of Early Learning and Care Programs, Providers, and Service

Implement Enhancements to the Colorado Shines Website
The OEC partnered with the Governor's Office of Information Technology and Deloitte to optimize ColoradoShines.com to support improved user experience and accessibility. View the full list of enhancements.

Program Performance Evaluation Plan

Program Performance Evaluation Plan and Logic Model

The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the extent to which the state's Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) initiative implements strategies as intended and achieves desired outcomes. It also uses cost evaluation techniques to assess the costs and cost efficiency of program investments. The logic model and the Colorado Shines Brighter Statewide Birth through Five Strategic Plan inform the evaluation by identifying what strategies to assess and what outcomes should be accomplished during the course of the grant.The evaluation is organized around the six strategic plan goals and the readiness/participation, knowledge gain, and behavior change outcomes articulated in the logic model. The OEC engaged the Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver to develop the evaluation plan.

Stakeholder Engagement and Outreach Activities

 

 

Activity

Target Audience

Purpose

Lead

Participation

Transitions Survey

Early Childhood Councils, Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, Home Visitors

Identify strategies to support families of children entering kindergarten. 

Office of Early Childhood

38 Responses

Early Childhood Professional Credential Survey

Licensed child care facility directors and professionals registered in the Colorado Shines PDIS who have been awarded a Credential

The Professional Credential workgroup has been tasked with developing recommendations that will improve the Early Childhood Professional Credential and increase alignment with licensing.

Office of Early Childhood

1,597 Responses

Family, Provider and Stakeholder Focus Groups (Formal and Informal)

Families of children birth through five, providers of services to children ages birth through five and their families, policy makers, advocates, and others

Identify the needs of early childhood professionals, caregivers, and their communities to better support children birth to five and their families.

Early Milestones Colorado

 

Colorado Health Institute

44 Focus Groups, 222 Family Participants

Family Survey - Needs Assessment

Families of children birth through five

Identify families' needs and preferences to support their child's learning and development.

Colorado Health Institute

3,404 Responses

Family Survey - Strategic Plan

Families of children birth through five; Bright by Text Subscribers, Child Care Resource and Referral Users

Identify families' awareness of early childhood care and education services and their preferences for receiving services.

Marzano Research

1,276 Responses

Early Care and Learning Provider Survey

Licensed child care and preschool programs serving children birth to five

Understand providers' utilization of Colorado Shines, access to and need for training, barriers to providing infant/toddler care, and barriers to operating a child care business.

The Butler Institute

961 Responses

Quality Improvement Navigator and Coach Survey

Colorado Shines QRIS Quality Navigators and Coaches

Learn about training received and desired, desired supports, outreach and engagement strategies, partners, and perceptions of Colorado Shines.

The Butler Institute

146 Responses

Early Childhood Forums

Families of children birth through 5, providers of services to children ages birth through five and their families, policy makers, advocates, and others

Share the Office of Early Childhood's vision for early childhood, key initiatives including the Colorado Shines Brighter Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five. 

Office of Early Childhood

260 Registered Participants

Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) Family Survey

Sample of 1,500 families participating in CCCAP

Learn about families' experiences and preferences.

The Butler Institute

261 Responses

Key Stakeholder Interviews

Providers of services to children birth through five and their families, policy makers, advocates, and others

Inform the needs assessment, strategic plan, evaluation, and other PDG activities implemented during the first year.

Colorado Health Institute, Child Trends, Early Milestones Colorado, Marzano Research, The Butler Institute, SE2 and other PDG vendors.

56 Interviews

Early Care and Education Workgroups

Early childhood professionals, ECE providers, Head Start, Early Childhood Councils, higher education, state agencies, national and state subject matter experts, program administrators, and other stakeholders

Inform changes to the Colorado Competencies for Early Childhood Educators and Administrators, the Early Childhood Professional Credential, Early Childhood Professional Qualifications, and the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Framework

Government Performance Solutions, Office of Early Childhood

50 Participants

Early Care and Education Survey

Licensed child care and preschool programs serving children birth to five and professionals registered in the Colorado Shines PDIS

Inform changes to the Colorado Competencies for Early Childhood Educators and Administrators, Early Childhood Professional Qualifications, and the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Framework

Office of Early Childhood

1,828 Responses

Market Research with Colorado Parents

Families of children birth through five

Assess the effectiveness of OEC messages to inspire action, build awareness and change behavior; and gather insights into the content and presentation of online content that is most relevant and interesting to Colorado parents and primary caregivers.

SE2 

200 Survey Responses

 

68 Focus Group Participants

Needs Assessment and Strategic Plan Release Events

Families of children birth through 5, providers of services to children ages birth through five and their families, policy makers, advocates, and others

Share key findings from the needs assessment and strategies to be implemented under the PDG B-5 renewal.

Office of Early Childhood

200 Participants

The initial Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) provided funding to support state's efforts to analyze the current landscape of their early childhood education mixed delivery system and implement changes to the system that maximize the availability of high-quality early childhood care and education options for low-income and disadvantaged families across providers and partners, improve the quality of care, streamline administrative infrastructure, and improve state-level early childhood care and education funding efficiencies. Colorado committed to the strategies listed under each activity during the initial PDG B-5 period of December 31, 2018 - March 31, 2020. View the initial PDG B-5 final report.

The projects described were supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative (PDG B-5), Grant Number 90TP0009, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.