DENVER – Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 - The Early Childhood Leadership Commission today released the Colorado Early Childhood Needs Assessment to help state and local leaders make data-driven decisions for early childhood systems analysis, strategic planning and service improvements.
The goal of the Colorado Early Childhood Needs Assessment is to accurately describe the current condition of the early childhood population at both state and county levels across four specific domains: early learning; family support and parent education; social, emotional and mental health; health. The risk analysis uses numerous indicators to identify counties as high, moderate or low risk for specific maternal, infant and child outcomes. Also included in the report are snapshots of available supports and services by county to evaluate families’ access to community resources.
“This Assessment will help communities across the state better understand and respond to the needs of families and children with more targeted early childhood supports and services,” said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. “Local leaders and early childhood advocates now have a powerful tool to help ensure Colorado’s children are healthy, thriving and ready for school.”
Fifteen counties were identified as “high risk”, 27 counties as “moderate risk” and 22 counties as “low risk” based on 13 key indicators, including such factors as infant mortality rate, children in poverty, high school dropouts, juvenile crime and unemployment. The risk analysis provides one critical perspective of the status of local early childhood populations and should be used in conjunction with local expertise in addressing community needs.
“Healthy, educated, well-cared for children are the promise of Colorado’s future,” said Pat Hamill, Early Childhood Leadership Commission Co-Chair and President, Oakwood Homes. “We hope to bring together county and city officials, early childhood professionals, healthcare providers and community organizations to use this report to dramatically improve the lives of children across this state.”
The Colorado Early Childhood Needs Assessment was conducted in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as part of the Commission’s grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
About the Early Childhood Leadership Commission:
In 2010, legislators passed SB 195, creating the Early Childhood Leadership Commission to promote the coordination of policies and procedures that affect the health and well-being of Colorado children, guided by the Early Childhood Colorado Framework. Members include business and philanthropic leaders, legislators, service providers, and representatives from education, health and other state and community stakeholders.
Guided by a child-focused and family-centered approach, the work of the Commission is vital to:
• Close the Achievement Gap. Research indicates that high-quality early childhood services can close the school readiness gap and lay the foundation for a productive citizenry.
• Support and Build the Workforce. A strong early childhood system improves worker productivity and reduces turnover in the workplace.
• Increase Efficiency, Increase Results. Better outcomes for children result when health, education and human service systems are better coordinated, increasing the effectiveness, efficiency and availability of services.