This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More on chalkbeat.org.
In just over a year, until Colorado starts providing free preschools to 4-year-olds across the state, state lawmakers want to invest $ 100 million in efforts to increase the workforce of young children and create more places for young children.
During a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, a group of lawmakers reported legislationwhich will be funded by federal COVID aid.
The money will go to several existing grant programs, including one to help childcare providers with operational costs, and another to open new providers and expand existing ones. It will also create a new program to support and educate people who care for young children but do not have a state license.
“This bill is a massive investment to ensure that we, as a state, rise to the point of helping families, allowing parents to work, allowing single parents to return to the workforce,” said state spokesman Alex Valdez, a Democrat from Denver. . sponsored the bill. “COVID-19 has destroyed our childcare workforce and we need to rebuild it.”
The newly introduced bill comes both at a difficult and important time for the Colorado early childhood industry. Many childcare providers are still experiencing financial damage from the pandemic and are struggling to find employees willing to work long hours for low wages. At the same time, there is a sense of excitement as Colorado plans mass expansion of state-funded preschools with funding from the nicotine tax revenue approved by voters in 2020.