Policy Resource

Colorado Legislature Strengthens Child Care System

Jul 28, 2017

In recent years the Colorado legislature has taken several steps to improve the accessibility of high quality child care in the state.

In 2014 the legislature passed three bipartisan bills to reform the state’s child care subsidy program. The bills aimed to increase the affordability of child care, ease burdens for working parents, and cut red tape for small business child care providers. Specific changes to the program included: reducing co-payment requirements for the most impoverished families, increasing access to care by allowing contracting for subsidy slots, expanding eligibility during 60-day job searches and to those participating in postsecondary education and workforce training, increasing provider reimbursement rates, instituting tiered reimbursement for providers statewide, and restructuring income eligibility so that working families can afford child care despite minor increases in wages, thus easing the cliff effect that discourages families from earning a higher salary. Legislation was also passed to extend the states reimbursable child care expenses tax credit to families making less than $25,000 and increase funds for quality improvement grants for child care providers.

In 2015, the Colorado Legislature increased investment in the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) to continue implementation of reforms passed in 2014 and an additional $1.3 million for a 1.7 percent CCCAP provider rate increase.

In 2016, Colorado legislators continued their investment in child care by allocating $2 million to support child care access for working families. Furthermore, such funding prioritized high quality care, as providers at the highest quality ratings received a larger reimbursement. A commitment to high quality child care is evident through two other budgetary measures that sustained recent investments in the state’s child care quality rating and improvement system and the credentialing system to support the early childhood workforce. The state also increased the number of child care licensing specialists to ensure that providers receive an average of one visit per year. The state legislature further improved access to child care through the continuation of the child care “cliff effect” project—ensuring families do not have disruption in eligibility for child care subsidies due to small changes in income.

In 2017, the Colorado legislature reauthorized the refundable tax credit for child care expenses for another three years. This tax credit helps more than 35,000 Coloradans offset their child care expense by more than $6 million each year. Additionally, the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program received an increase of $2.5 million to continue expanding access to quality child care.

Learn more about these legislative wins for babies at the Colorado Children’s Campaign website.

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