Colorado has a shortage of infant and toddler child care. Hundreds of providers have closed in recent years. To help increase access to quality providers, state law allows for an innovative funding strategy: contracted slots. With contracted slots, Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) payments are made to providers on a monthly basis, which gives them more consistent cash flow and financial security.
Three counties (Arapahoe, Denver, and Gunnison) engaged in a six-month pilot of this approach. The pilot included seven providers and a total of 27 slots. Early Milestones conducted a study to assess the benefits and costs for families, providers, and county and state administrators. Early Milestones also provided support for implementation, coordinating the pilot’s advisory group, and synthesized and disseminated findings and recommendations to help expand the approach. While challenges remain, the pilot showed the potential that contracted slots hold for increased access to quality child care.