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.