Early Childhood Investments

Investing in a Stronger Early Childhood Ecosystem

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) is dedicated to creating a state in which all children, families and early childhood professionals are valued, healthy and thriving. 

CDEC received over $700 million in federal and state stimulus funding to address pandemic recovery needs and advance efforts that strengthen and grow Colorado’s early childhood sector. 

During extensive community listening sessions, over 2,300 child care providers, families with young children and other stakeholders identified three areas in which funding would best support short- and long-term outcomes for the state's early childhood ecosystem: 

  • improving access and quality, 
  • developing the workforce, and 
  • strengthening families. 

Across these areas, CDEC developed over 40 stimulus-funded activities to build a more accessible high-quality early learning and care system for all Colorado families.

three adjoined gears depicting a father holding an infant a teacher watching a child play and three children raising hands in a classroom

Access and Quality

Ensure all Coloradans have equitable access to high-quality early care and learning services. 

Strategy Overview - Access and Quality

Workforce Development

Support the early childhood workforce to expand the number of educators in the state and equip them with the tools they need. 

Strategy Overview - Workforce Development

Family Strengthening

Provide communities and families with the support they need so children have a healthy environment in which to thrive. 

Strategy Overview - Family Strengthening

Photo of Executive Director Lisa Roy


“Colorado is a national leader in using evidence-driven approaches to ensure all children, families and early childhood professionals can thrive. These activities lay the foundation for smart long-term investments in our state’s early childhood ecosystem.” 

- Dr. Lisa Roy, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Early Childhood

Driving Evidence-Based Innovation

As these stimulus-funded activities unfold in communities across the state, we are building evidence on the effectiveness of the programs and practices we invest in. The Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab coordinates the Early Childhood Evaluation Hub, overseeing evaluation teams conducting evaluations of many of the stimulus-funded activities and aligning findings to activate learnings in policy and program improvements.


Helping Children and Families Thrive

With this funding, CDEC focused on creating system-level changes to benefit all members of our community for decades to come. We do this by investing in programs and services that make families stronger, increase access to high-quality early care and learning and support a qualified and well-compensated workforce. When we are successful across these three priorities, Colorado thrives. 

This historic investment will empower Colorado’s early childhood programs and professionals as they provide accessible, high-quality services to help young children reach their full potential. All Coloradans will reap the rewards for generations as more families are able to advance economically and more children get the strong start they need to grow into healthy, productive and happy adults. 

CDEC programs and services support children and their families from prenatal to school age. Some of these projects serve children within specific age ranges, such as infants and toddlers, and are specified within the individual activity content.

Three connected gears describing the strategy categories: strengthening families, increasing equitable access, and developing a stable workforce