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 tested solutions on four key levers: recruitment & retention, working conditions, education & career pathways, and compensation.

Early Milestones was the lead agency for this multi-year initiative. We championed the work and provided technical assistance, facilitated the online learning community, evaluated progress, and advanced state systems coordination.

Supporting Innovation

Progress & Possibilities: Colorado's Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative

This new report summarizes the successes and impacts of the Initiative’s grantees across 34 counties between 2018 and 2022.

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.

2020-2021 Grantee Report Summary

The 2020 cohort of grantees generated many positive results and lessons for future efforts, despite challenges created by the pandemic.

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 34 Colorado counties between 2018 and 2022.

2021-2022 Grantees

  • Elevate the Workforce
    Led by the Gunnison-Hinsdale Early Childhood Council
  • Pamoja Early Childhood Education Professional Pathway Program
    Led by Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains in partnership with Empowering Communities Globally
  • Pathways to Teaching (P-TEACH) Expansion Project
    Led by St. Vrain Valley Schools
  • Designing for a Diverse Workforce: A Place-Based Early Childhood BA Pathway
    Led by University of Colorado Denver
  • Larimer Thrive by Five
    Led by the Early Childhood Council of Larimer County
  • Developing an Essential Career Navigation Roadmap for Early Childhood Educators
    Led by Denver’s Early Childhood Council, the Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County, and Joint Initiatives/Alliance for Kids

What Grantees Said

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

Progress & Possibilities: Colorado’s Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative Webinar

Hosted by Early Milestones, this webinar gives an overview of the Initiative and highlights the accomplishments of the grantees’ work in Colorado.

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.

Project Team

Kacee Miller

Portfolio Director: Early Learning (Lead)

Courtney Thornton

Project Manager

Katie Danna-Poston

Senior Project Manager


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
  • Colorado Department of Education
  • Colorado Office of Early Childhood