Colorado Child Care Assistance Program Contracted Slots Pilot

The Need. 

The mission of the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) is to provide eligible families with financial assistance for child care, ensure families with timely access to quality child care, and assist families in meeting their self-sufficiency goals. As Colorado’s population continues to grow, the supply of child care does not meet the demand. Fifty-one percent of people in Colorado live in a child care desert[1] and licensed slots are available for less than half the number of eligible children with working parents.[2] While the number of child care slots increased by more than 8 percent between 2010 and 2018, there was a 24 percent decrease in licensed facilities.[3] Colorado prospers when children and families thrive. There must be continued support for families to have access to quality and affordable child care.

The Focus.

There is a significant need for more child care providers to accept CCCAP across the state. Although legislation changes in 2014 brought a significant overhaul to CCCAP that expanded access to care and alleviated some barriers, the majority of child care providers do not participate in CCCAP. Common reasons reported by providers for nonparticipation include: higher administrative burden, lower reimbursement rates, and the ability of providers to fill slots because of overall demand for child care. In addition, children of parents who are working in unpredictable service industry jobs or struggle with access to transportation and alternate caregivers when children are sick often have inconsistent attendance. This impacts payments to providers and their financial payments from CCCAP. Because child care programs must pay for the operations of their programs regardless of that child’s attendance, they are less willing to serve those families. This in turn impacts the parent/caregiver’s employment stability and continued work towards self-sufficiency.

The Strategy.

One solution to address these tensions is a contracted slots model. This hybrid model would allow parents to select a child care program that meets their family needs and ideally increase financial stability for providers. Although House Bill 1317 allows Colorado counties the option of contracting for CCCAP slots with child care providers, no county to date has elected this model as it would require significant changes in policy, process, and service delivery methods. Consequently, the CCCAP Contracted Slots Pilot is designed to pilot implementation of contracting for CCCAP slots in three counties (Denver, Arapahoe, and Gunnison) to assess the benefits and costs for families, child care providers, and counties administering the CCCAP program. The ultimate goal of contracting for CCCAP slots is to increase access to quality child care and encourage continuity of care for low-income children and other underserved groups. Lessons learned will be documented and used to inform expanded implementation of contracting for slots statewide.

The CCCAP Contracted Slots Pilot is generously supported by Gary Community Investments, Donnell-Kay Foundation, and Constellation Philanthropy.


[1] Center for American Progress. (2018). America’s child care deserts in 2018. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/reports/2018/12/06/461643/americas-child-care-deserts-2018/

[2] Stedron, J., & Maloney, G. (2018). 30 years of progress for young children and families. Retrieved from http://earlymilestones.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/EarlyChildhood_FINAL.pdf

[3] Colorado Children’s Campaign. (2019). 10 trends in child well-being. Retrieved from https://www.coloradokids.org/data/publications/10-trends-in-child-well-being-2019/