Quality pre-K increases school readiness.

Pre-kindergarten (pre-K) helps Colorado children increase their chances for success; efforts to boost access, quality, and equity will help even more children. In 2020, Colorado voters passed a ballot measure that will pay for all children in their year before kindergarten to attend preschool at least 10 hours per week. With the program beginning in 2023, legislators must act now to determine how universal preschool will work and who will run it.

 

A community-driven process led by the Colorado Children’s Campaign is engaging families, providers, schools, and others. Early Milestones is assisting with data, research, and policy insights to develop a vision for preschool policy changes. We are also leading community conversations around preschool and other early care and learning issues currently impacting families.

Preschool for All

A series of seven Early Milestones briefs explores key universal preschool topics and summarizes input from stakeholders from across the state. The first three briefs are available now:

  1. The Future of Preschool Overview
  2. Governance
  3. Funding

Upcoming briefs will discuss program quality, program eligibility, the early childhood education workforce, and community input.

Methodology

These briefs were developed using a multi-stage process:

  • Organizers of engagement groups took detailed notes and used interactive input tools (e.g., Jamboard, note catchers) that allowed participants to share written comments to specific questions.
  • Colorado Children’s Campaign staff and volunteers from participant organizations summarized notes from each session.
  • Early Milestones coded summarized notes using descriptive and in vivo coding techniques (i.e., using words or phrases from people’s own language as a code). We then identified patterns within the codes to develop key themes. Each brief presents and describes the themes that came from this coding process.
  • Briefs also include background information that came from expert presentations to engagement groups and from research into national and state practices.

Engagement Process

The Colorado Children’s Campaign developed a three-part process to engage people interested in providing input on how a statewide, universal preschool program might be designed. The process includes a leadership committee, an advisory group, and community input sessions.

Preschool Policy Leadership Committee (PPLC): 31 governor-appointed members representing a range of interests and areas of the state. The PPLC leads the development of preschool program design ideas for consideration by policymakers. Between July and December of 2020, the committee met seven times to engage in shared learning on key topics. The committee continues to meet regularly to explore program governance and funding. 

Preschool Policy Advisory Group (PPAG): Open to anyone with an interest in informing the design of Colorado’s universal preschool program. The PPAG met seven times between August 2020 and February 2021, with an average of 180 people from a wide variety of organizations attending each meeting. In total, 246 participants attended at least one meeting or requested to be part of the group’s email list. This group engages in shared learning and provides input on the same key topics that the PPLC has discussed.

To include the voices of community members unable to participate in advisory group meetings, the Colorado Children’s Campaign created a Community Engagement Toolkit, which was used by over three dozen local groups to hold more than 50 engagement sessions between October 2020 and March 2021. Almost half of the state’s early childhood councils held input sessions. One third of these events were in rural parts of the state. Another third included statewide interests. The rest were held in Metro Denver or other urban areas of the state. Each session addressed: 1) participants’ hopes and fears for universal preschool in Colorado, 2) their goals for children in the year before kindergarten, 3) their definition of quality preschool, and 4) what they think will make an expansion of preschool successful.

Additional information about the Future of Preschool in Colorado Engagement Process can be found in our overview brief.