Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia announced today the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are awarding a $15 million supplemental award to Colorado. This funding is in addition to the previous $29.9 million dollar award Colorado received last December from the Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge.
"Colorado's efforts to build the nation's best Early Childhood Education System continue to be recognized on a national level," Hickenlooper said. "These additional funds will help provide high-quality early childhood educational experiences and services that prepare Colorado's children for successful outcomes."
In December, Colorado received $29.9 million to help fund the state's plans to improve school readiness. The grant money will increase access to high-quality early learning programs and help develop the capacity of programs and services for children with the highest needs.
The supplemental money from the 2013 Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge will accelerate Colorado's vision of having every child ready for kindergarten; and every third-grader reading proficiently.
"Colorado's commitment to ensure that children start kindergarten ready to fully engage in learning continues to be recognized and rewarded," Garcia said. "This administration has placed a high priority on making sure that all children are valued, healthy and thriving. Securing these additional federal funds will bolster Colorado's work that is already well underway to enhance quality early childhood services."
"The department's Office of Early Childhood exemplifies Colorado's determination to develop the nation's most integrated and innovative early learning system," said Reggie Bicha, Colorado Department of Human Services Executive Director. These resources will provide additional funding for several key project areas within the grant, including:
- Evolve the statewide tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to ensure children receive the highest quality programming in all licensed settings and implement a shared services model in high-needs communities for business stability and quality improvement.
- Integrate early childhood learning and development guidelines within all early learning system elements including workforce competencies, comprehensive assessments systems, TQRIS, and parent training and tools.
- Leverage the state's comprehensive assessment systems to ensure early identification and effective interventions and supports for children with high needs, leading to kindergarten readiness.
- Create a highly-qualified early childhood workforce through a competency based system that supports both formal and informal education opportunities and allows an evaluation of educator effectiveness, linked to Colorado's K-12 system.
- Expand the kindergarten entry assessment to ensure that Colorado's children are on the right path to achievement at third grade and beyond.
These strategies are key components to the state's broader vision outlined in Colorado Reads: The Early Literacy Initiative.