Early Childhood Policies in Colorado

Quality child care, preschool, and kindergarten are expensive no matter who you are or how much you earn, and they’re especially unaffordable for low- and middle-income families. Unfortunately, costs have increased while government support for child care has increased only slightly in recent years and wages have remained stagnant, meaning child care and education costs eat up a substantial portion of most families’ budgets. The average cost of child care for one 4-year-old in Colorado is about $11,000 per year, while infant care is closer to $15,000 — about 19.5 percent of median family income.

However, this could be the year we finally create a holistic, high-quality early childhood system for Colorado families. In addition to the governor’s agenda, advocates and legislators have been hard at work drafting legislation to ensure families, child care and early childhood education providers, employers, and other stakeholders can work together to build service capacity and quality, increase access and availability, and lower costs.

Several early childhood bills have been introduced in recent sessions, to some success, and five early childhood bills have been introduced so far in the 2019 session. If Colorado wants to lead on early childhood issues, these state bills are a great place to start. A federal proposal from Senators Bennet and Brown would also be a major win for Colorado families, but in the meantime, state lawmakers should work together to find solutions quickly. Colorado families and the state’s future depend on it. Read more in our recent brief.