Advancing Colorado's early childhood workforce through innovative partnerships

Early childhood educators are a major contributor to a child’s healthy development. Yet, many Colorado communities still lack an effective workforce and the need is growing.

The Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce in Colorado Initiative was created to develop sustainable, innovative approaches for building and supporting the workforce. The Initiative is testing solutions on four key levers: recruitment & retention, working conditions, education & career pathways, and compensation.

Early Milestones is the lead agency for this multi-year initiative. We champion the work and provide technical assistance, facilitate the online learning community, evaluate progress, and advance state systems coordination.

Supporting Innovation

The Workforce Behind the Workforce

This six-installment series from Colorado Public Radio’s Jenny Brundin explores challenges experienced by the state’s early childhood workforce and highlights innovative solutions taken by our grantees.

Announcing 2021 Workforce Innovation Grantees

Early Milestones Colorado has announced six partnerships that received funding through Early Childhood Workforce Innovation Grants for 2021-2022. These emphasize data-informed, equity-focused, and sustainable systems building in the early care and learning sector, which is particularly important as the state works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

2019-2020 Innovation Grantee Report Summary

This new brief shares the steps that five unique partnerships took to tackle workforce challenges through systemic and sustainable change.

2021 Innovation Grant RFP

The 2021 request for Early Childhood Workforce Innovation Grant proposals is available now. Follow the link below to view the RFP and click here to watch a recording of our informational webinar.

The Colorado Context

Demand is Growing

Demand is Growing

Colorado's population of children under the age of four is expected to increase by 22% by 2026.
Supply is Inadequate

Supply is Inadequate

70% of ECE program directors have difficulty finding qualified staff.
Quality Investment Now

Economic Benefits

Every dollar spent on ECE contributes $2.25 to the state's economy by enabling parents to work.

EC Workforce Innovation Grantees

The efforts of Early Childhood Workforce Innovation Grantees have positively impacted 29 Colorado counties. Ten counties will be affected by this year’s cohort.

2020-2021 Grantees

What Grantees are Saying

One participant joined our program with a food service background. When her young daughter said that she wanted to be just like her mother when she grew up, the participant chose to build a new career path to which her daughter could aspire. This participant has been successful with the program and has launched her teaching career.

Denver's Early Childhood Workforce Initiative

Over the course of this grant, we have engaged our county commissioners, and they are now supportive of Child Care 8,000 and have embraced the business community involvement.

Child Care 8,000, Mesa County

Program administrators reported positive differences after mentor teacher training, including the use of new skills and practices with parents and children.

Expanding Possibilities in Early Childhood, Larimer County

I’ve loved this program, and I wish I could take Field Experiences again, because I had the best time of my life and wanted to be in the classroom all day, every day.

St. Vrain Valley High School Senior, P-TEACH

EC Workforce Resources

Bearing the Cost of Early Care and Education in Colorado

Learn the impact of the ECE sector on Colorado’s economy and the factors that influence how the industry operates.

Colorado's Early Childhood Workforce Survey 2017

Results of a comprehensive state survey of early educators, including demographic and educational characteristics and factors that predict well-being and turnover.

Colorado's Early Childhood Workforce 2020 Plan

A three-year state roadmap to promote an effective and diverse early childhood workforce.


Thank you to the many partners who make this initiative successful, including local communities implementing the work, the state agencies that serve as resource partners, and the two Colorado-based foundations that provide funding and serve as the project advisory team.

  • Buell Foundation
  • Gary Community Investments
  • Colorado Department of Education
  • Colorado Office of Early Childhood
  • ECLC