Policy Resource

Early Childhood Councils

Feb 9, 2016

Governance and Leadership resource information on state policies and initiatives that impact infants, toddlers and their families

Colorado’s local Early Childhood (EC) Councils are charged with “creating a seamless delivery system of early care and education services” in their counties by the Colorado General Assembly. Council members include parents, early childhood education professionals, health, mental health, and family support providers, and government officials. The EC Council program began in 1997 as the Consolidated Child Care Pilots in 17 counties. The General Assembly changed their name to Early Childhood Councils and expanded the program’s scope to statewide in 2006.

According to authorizing legislation (HB07-1062), it is the role of Colorados Early Childhood Councils to: Improve and sustain the availability, accessibility, capacity and quality of early childhood services for children and families throughout the state.

Early childhood services are defined by the legislation as including:

Early Learning 
Family Support and Parent Education 
Social, Emotional, and Mental Health 

To address these, EC Councils are employing strategies to: 1) build and support partnerships, 2) fund and invest, 3) change policy, 4) build public engagement, 5) share accountability, and 6) generate education and leadership opportunities “ the six foundations of the Early Childhood Council Framework.

EC Councils across Colorado bring together dedicated partners from each of these service areas to coordinate, increase and improve the education, health, social/emotional, and parenting opportunities available to all young children and their families. EC Councils sponsor a variety of programs as local needs dictate, including professional development and quality improvement grants for child care providers. Many EC Councils have developed strategic plans for their work that align with the Early Childhood Framework developed by the Lt. Governor’s office.

While Councils are independently organized, the Colorado Department of Human Services provides oversight of Early Childhood Councils efforts. Early Childhood Councils are predominantly nonprofits, either operating under a nonprofit fiscal agent (41%) or as independent nonprofits (24%). Councils also operate under other fiscal agent types, including government agencies (14%), school districts (14%) or community colleges (7%).

The Councils receive funding from the Federal Child Care and Development Block Grant administered by the State of Colorados Department of Human Services as a direct investment in the Councils early childhood systems-building work. In addition, they receive grant funding through grant programs including: the Infant and Toddler Quality and Availability Program, the School Readiness Quality Improvement Program, and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program. Councils also receive funds through the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant and the Expanding Quality in Infant Toddler Care Initiative which is administered through the Colorado Department of Education. The Councils have leveraged this investment to attract other public and private funding, including funds from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, foundations, and individual donors. They receive additional support through in-kind donations and other sources such as fees for service.

In FY 2014, the Councils:

Attracted $4.6 million in private support. Leveraged $12.0 million in public funds. Generated a return of $9 for every $1 invested in systems-building funding.

By 2014 there were 31 EC Councils that serve 58 of Colorados 64 counties. ECCLA was originally formed as an informal collaborative bringing the Councils together to support each other, align efforts, communicate grant management information, share best practices, and provide local input to state policy decisions. ECCLA was established as an independent non-profit in 2013 and launched formally as a membership association in January 2014.

Learn more about the progress of the council in the Colorados Early Childhood Councils 2014 State of the Councils Report: http://news.ecclacolorado.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ECCLAreport_vF.pdf

Updated January 2016

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