A strategy to increase supply and expand access to quality child care

Colorado faces a shortage of infant and toddler child care opportunities due to the closure of hundreds of child care providers in recent years. Contracting for child care slots is one strategy to ensure the viability of quality providers who serve families within the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). With contracted slots, payments are based on a flat monthly payment regardless of attendance, providing financial security for early care and education providers.

Three counties (Arapahoe, Denver, and Gunnison) engaged in a six-month pilot to contract for child care slots to assess the benefits and costs for families, providers, and county and state administrators. The pilot included seven providers and a total of 27 slots. Early Milestones provided implementation support by developing a package of tools and getting key documentation in place, coordinating advisory committee meetings, completing evaluation activities, and disseminating findings. While challenges remain, the pilot findings indicate the potential that contracted slots hold for positively impacting the early childhood ecosystem in Colorado.

Benefits of Contracted Slots

All participating providers indicated that the pilot had a positive impact on their program’s finances and the majority (86%) indicated that the pilot had a positive impact on their program’s relationships with the county participating families.

66% of providers indicated that a primary challenge of CCCAP is that payment is tied to attendance. As demonstrated in this chart, six of the seven providers benefitted financially from contracted slots (compared to funds they would have received under traditional CCCAP).

What Pilot Participants are Saying

Consistent care is everything to my family. It means that I can provide for my children. I couldn’t go to work without having a consistent child care center. Without CCCAP, working would not be possible for me, being a single mom.


It allowed us to have some consistency, to know that the kids are paid for every day. It also allowed us to have some flexibility with some families who might have things going on, whether it be medical, personal, sick children, sick themselves, going between mom and dad for custody issues.

Child Care Provider

This pilot just opened our eyes to attendance. Is there something else we can do with CCCAP to reach out to any family – not just contracted slots families – to help with attendance?

County Representative


Thank you to the many partners who make this initiative successful, including the local partners in Arapahoe, Denver, and Gunnison Counties for participating in the 2019 pilot.  This work was made possible through grants provided by Gary Community Investments, Donnell-Kay Foundation, Klau Family Foundation Fund, and the James A. C. & Maureen A. Kennedy Charitable Giving Fund.

  • Gary Community Investments
  • Donnell Kay Foundation
  • Constellation Philanthropy