Ensuring the future of Colorado's early childhood sector after COVID-19

It is critical for Colorado to fully understand the impact of the pandemic on child care and other early childhood services. Through comprehensive data collection and analysis, Early Milestones is identifying actions that can be taken to be rebuild the sector quickly, enable families to get back to work, and prepare for future crises.

Through two waves of surveys of Colorado families, child care providers, and early educators, we are engaging the research-policy-practice loop with system-level and research partners to determine sector needs and solutions. The results of this work have been developed into a data dashboard and several reports to inform funding, practice, and policy decisions.

Measuring the Impact

A comprehensive report of findings from Wave I surveys

During the summer of 2020, Early Milestones Colorado collected survey responses from more than 1,200 child care providers; 5,000 early childhood educators; and 11,000 families with children under the age of 12. This statewide research was designed to inform system-level approaches for re-building the sector quickly, getting families back to work, and preparing for future crises.

We are pleased to present complete findings from our 2020 surveys in this comprehensive report.


  • Nearly one-tenth (9.4%) of child care providers closed due to the pandemic, and enrollment decreased statewide by 53.2%.
  • 23.3% of the early childhood education workforce was laid off or furloughed.
  • Almost two-thirds (64.3%) of families were forced to change child care plans due to the pandemic, and 33.0% of families did not have the care they needed.

A second wave of surveys is underway, and we will continue to publish findings in the coming months.

Assessing the Road to Recovery

Sharing results from our surveys and conversations with the EC community.

Impact on Providers

This summer, Early Milestones collected survey responses from 1,207 early care and learning providers. Through this research, we learned that nearly 10% of Colorado’s providers have closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and enrollment has decreased by more than 30%. This brief explores some of the ways that the pandemic has affected Colorado’s child care supply and demand.

Brief 1 of a 3-part series.

Impact on Educators

Our survey of 5,942 of early childhood educators revealed furloughs, lay-offs, and household income loss. This brief explores educators’ concerns about health, well-being, job security, and shortages in child care options for their own families .

Brief 2 of a 3-part series.

Impact on Families

Our survey of more than 11,000 families with children under 12 revealed difficulty finding adequate child care, household income loss, and significant disparities between people of color and their white peers. This brief explores key findings and offers considerations for policymakers to strengthen support for Colorado families.

Brief 3 of a 3-part series.

Community Conversations

Early Milestones conducted five virtual conversations with early childhood professionals from 41 counties. The discussions deepened our understanding of how the pandemic is impacting early childhood services and what supports are needed to rebuild the sector. This brief shares what we learned.

What We're Hearing

“I’m able to work remotely but not getting paid 40 hours a week. We are unable to afford child care fees, and it doesn’t feel safe to send our little ones to child care.”

Family Survey Respondent

“So many questions remain: Is it safe to re-open? Should I limit my hours? Will the parks be open? Do I stay open if Colorado moves back to a stay-at-home order? Do I require masks if I do re-open? Do I need to wear a mask the entire school day?”

Provider Survey Respondent

“Due to the pandemic and low enrollment, my classroom has been closed down, and I have been laid off. I’m heartbroken. I’m praying that I get my job back.”

Educator Survey Respondent


Early Milestones is grateful to the following project funders, without whom this effort would not be possible. We also thank our many partners who are helping to distribute surveys, interpret data, and develop communication tools.

  • Buell Foundation
  • Colorado Office of Early Childhood
  • CO Health Foundation
  • Gary Community Investments