Governor Polis, Lieutenant Governor Primavera, Legislators, Parents, Providers & Community Leaders Announce State’s Transformative Progress Delivering New Department of Early Childhood and Universal Preschool to Colorado Kids & Saving Families Money

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

DENVER — Today, Governor Polis and Lt. Governor Primavera joined legislative leadership, bill sponsors, parents, providers, and early childhood education community leaders to highlight the state’s nation-leading progress implementing the new Department of Early Childhood and delivering on the promise of universal preschool for children across Colorado. Universal preschool will save Coloradans on average $4,300 per year. 

We promised universal preschool, and today, in partnership with legislative leaders and strong early childhood community support, we are delivering on that promise, saving families money, and helping to ensure Colorado’s kids, families, and parents can thrive,” said Governor Polis. “Strong early childhood education leads to a stronger workforce and a better economy, and is one of the best investments we can make in Colorado’s future.”

The Polis-Primavera Administration has taken bold steps since day one to make high-quality, affordable early childhood education a reality for Colorado families, and the newly introduced legislation will elevate early childhood education and ensure an easy to navigate early childhood preschool experience for Colorado families. The administration has partnered with state lawmakers to make universal preschool a reality for hardworking families, parents and kids.

“Child care is both essential for working families and an important opportunity for child development. We are taking bold steps to expand the quality and capacity of early childhood education, while supporting workforce development to strengthen the talent pipeline for early childhood educators. We know that we will never go wrong by investing in our children and the people of Colorado,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. 

The new Department of Early Childhood will streamline the early childhood system, making it easier for families to navigate by creating a single application for early childhood programs, and focusing on results, not paperwork. 

“Universal Pre-K is something voters asked for loud and clear, and with this legislation, we are delivering on that promise,” said Speaker Alec Garnett (D-Denver). “Colorado families are going to save thousands of dollars per year with 10 hours of free, high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds that will prepare our youngest learners for success. We’ve brought together everyone in the education community to design a one-stop-shop that will break down barriers and streamline access to early childhood education.”

Speaker Garnett, President Fenberg, Senator Buckner and Rep. Sirota were the cosponsors of legislation which established a unified early childhood system after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition EE by a two to one margin to provide voluntary, high-quality preschool to Coloradans. 

This legislation implements the will of the people by supporting mixed delivery preschool options, prioritizing quality, and respecting parent choice, while strengthening and supporting local infrastructure to best serve each community’s individual needs

“I am so proud to introduce legislation to implement universal preschool and the Department of Early Childhood,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder). “Quality early childhood education is critical to a child’s life success, but streamlining the process to increase availability and affordability is just as beneficial to the parents of young children. With this legislation, we’re laying the foundation for how we can set Colorado kids and families up for long term success.”

Colorado’s nation-leading work to implement a high-quality early childhood education system sets the foundation for Colorado kids to thrive. The legislation is based on recommendations from early childhood education community leaders, parents, and providers that received unanimous approval from the Early Childhood Leadership Commission.

“The new Department of Early Childhood will make it easier for families to find preschool options that work for them and set up our students to thrive,” said Rep. Emily Sirota (D-Denver). “Voters overwhelmingly approved universal Pre-K, and soon families across the state will save money by enrolling their children in free, high-quality early childhood education programs. Local communities will be empowered to ensure the design and delivery of universal Pre-K works for them.”

“Today is a historic day as we take an important step to make universal pre-K a reality here in Colorado,” said Senator Janet Buckner (D-Aurora). “As we work to move Colorado forward, this bill will directly impact families across our state, saving people money and setting our future leaders up for success. I am so proud of the work that we’ve done to get to this point, and am excited to see how this new office will benefit Colorado’s youth for generations to come.” 

The program will provide 10 hours per week of free, high-quality preschool to every child the year before entering kindergarten starting in the 2023 school year.