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Legislative Year: 2022 Change
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Bill Detail: HB22-1295

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Title Department Early Childhood And Universal Preschool Program
Status Signed by the Speaker of the House (04/25/2022)
Bill Subjects
  • Children & Domestic Matters
House Sponsors A. Garnett (D)
E. Sirota (D)
Senate Sponsors J. Buckner (D)
S. Fenberg (D)
House Committee Education
Senate Committee Education
Date Introduced 03/11/2022
Summary

Operations of the department of early childhood: The bill
establishes the powers, functions, and responsibilities of the department
of early childhood (department) and the executive director of the
department (executive director) in overseeing and administering early
childhood and family support programs and services (programs and
services). The bill relocates most programs from the department of human
services and the department of education to the department, effective July
1, 2022; the authority to operate a preschool program transfers July 1,
2023. The department may enter into memoranda of understanding and
interagency agreements to allow the department of human services and
the department of education to continue operating programs, as necessary,
to accomplish the transfer of programs, personnel, property, records,
information systems, and funding to the department over time without
interruption of service. Any existing contracts, claims, and liabilities that
pertain to the transferred programs and functions transfer to the
department. The rules that pertain to a particular program or function that
is transferred to the department remain in effect and apply to the
department and to persons or entities affected by the programs and
functions until the executive director repromulgates the rules. The
department is authorized to accept, use, and administer federal money
made available for the purpose of early childhood programs and services
operated by the department.
Department rules (pgs 9-13): The bill authorizes the executive
director to promulgate rules for the department and the programs
administered by the department. The executive director must convene a
15-member rules advisory council (council) to provide consultation and
advice with regard to the rules of the department and the programs
administered by the department. The bill establishes the membership of
the council to include a variety of persons who have experience with
programs and services.
The bill requires the department to:
  • Exercise specified functions and the bill specifies
principles the department must follow in exercising the
functions; (pgs 19-24)
  • Develop and implement a single, unified electronic
application for families to use to apply for all publicly
funded early childhood programs and services the
department administers. The application must be functional
by July 1, 2023, for purposes of the Colorado universal
preschool program (preschool program). (pgs 24-25)
  • Work with local coordinating organizations, state and local
agencies, and program providers to collect, share, manage,
use, and protect data pertaining to programs and services.
The department must regularly inform the public of
progress made in improving the delivery of programs and
services. (pgs 25-29)
  • Contract with a public or private entity to independently
evaluate the department's governance and performance
after the first 3 years of operation and to evaluate early
childhood programs that were not transferred to the
department and recommend whether to transfer those
programs. By November 1, 2025, the independent evaluator
must submit the report to the governor, the early childhood
leadership commission, and committees of the general
assembly. (pgs 29-31)
  • Collaborate with other state departments to prepare an
annual report concerning transitioning and implementing
programs and services and cross-agency collaboration. The
department shall include the report in its annual hearing
pursuant to the State Measurement for Accountable,
Responsive, and Transparent (SMART) Government Act.
(pgs 31-33)
Local coordinating organization (pgs 33-52): The bill directs the
department to solicit applications from local public entities and nonprofit
organizations to serve as local coordinating organizations (LCOs) in
communities throughout the state. The department must review the
applications and, to the extent possible, select an LCO for every
community in the state. If there is an area for which an LCO is not
selected, the department will serve as the LCO until an organization is
selected. An LCO is responsible for working with the families, program
and service providers, and local governments in the community and with
the department to increase access to, coordinate, and allocate funding for
program and service providers in the community. The bill specifies the
responsibilities of the LCO, including the requirement to adopt a
community plan (plan), subject to approval by the department, to address
specified issues, including:
  • Assisting families in applying for programs and services;
  • Recruiting and ensuring a mixed delivery system of public
and private preschool program providers;
  • Allocating funding among providers, based on parent
choice, to maximize funding to meet community needs for
programs and services;
  • Supporting increased recruitment and retention of
individuals in the early care and education workforce;
  • Securing additional local resources and funding for
programs and services; and
  • Providing transparency concerning the amount of money
available for and used to support programs and services.
The LCO must submit the proposed plan to the department, and
the department may require revisions before approving the plan.
The department shall enter into a coordinator agreement with each
LCO that specifies the duties of the LCO in implementing the plan; other
responsibilities the LCO must meet, including responsibilities concerning
the preschool program; performance expectations that the LCO is to meet;
and the duties of the department to support and assist the LCO. The term
of the initial coordinator agreement is 3 years and subsequent agreements
must have 3- to 5-year terms. At the conclusion of a coordinator
agreement, the department must solicit and review LCO applications for
the community and may select the same or a new organization to serve as
the LCO. The bill specifies the department's duties concerning LCOs,
including annually reviewing each LCO's performance.
Transfer of department of human services programs: Effective
July 1, 2022, the bill transfers the authority for the following programs
and functions from the department of human services to the department.
The programs are relocated within the bill without substantive change,
except as noted:
  • Early childhood councils (pgs 52-63);
  • Family resource centers (pgs 63-71);
  • The child abuse prevention trust fund (pgs 71-80);
  • The child care services and substance use disorder
treatment pilot program (pgs 81-83);
  • Early intervention services for infants and toddlers (pgs
83-108);
  • The Colorado nurse home visitor program (pgs 108-122);
  • Social-emotional learning programs grant program (pgs
122-128). The bill codifies the social-emotional learning
programs grant program, currently operated by the
department of human services as the incredible years
program, to provide grants to operate programs for teachers
and parents and directly for young children. The
department shall administer the grant program in
collaboration with an implementation partner that the
department selects. The bill specifies the duties of the
implementation partner, the grant application requirements,
and the program and curriculum requirements a grantee
must meet.
  • The early childhood mental health consultation program
(pgs 128-137);
  • Emergency relief grant programs (pgs 137-158);
  • The Colorado child care assistance program (CCCAP) (pgs
159-183). The bill requires the department, after consulting
with county departments of human and social services and
child care providers and by July 1, 2025, to develop a
calculation for provider rates that more accurately reflects
the cost of child care, while still complying with federal
law and procedures. The bill authorizes the executive
director to adjust the percentage of the federal poverty rate
used to determine eligibility for child care assistance in
order to align eligibility across early care and education
programs to the extent allowed by federal law. Effective
July 1, 2023, a county shall not require a person who
applies for child care assistance to participate in child
support establishment, modification, or enforcement
services. Beginning July 1, 2023, a county may give
priority for services to a working family over a family
enrolled in postsecondary education or workforce training
only if the county does not have sufficient funding and has
approval for the prioritization from the department. Each
county shall pay providers for care in alignment with
common private-market practices, and the department rules
for payment policies must not be based on daily
reimbursement rates and must incentivize providers to
promote regular program attendance. The bill requires the
executive director to adopt rules pertaining to children who
are enrolled in both CCCAP and the preschool program to
ensure funds may be blended or braided at the state and
local levels and eligibility and authorization for services are
aligned, to the extent practicable. Each county must enter
into an annual performance contract with the department
with regard to implementing CCCAP.
  • Quality improvement initiatives for early childhood care
and education programs (pgs 225-233);
  • Colorado infant and toddler quality and availability grant
program (pgs 233-237);
  • Child care licensing (pgs 237-330). The bill transfers from
the department of human services to the department the
authority for licensing child care centers, family child care
homes, and other facilities generally providing less than
24-hour care for children. The licensing authority is
transferred without substantive change except for the
creation of a public preschool provider license that is
focused on ensuring the health and safety of children in
public preschool classrooms. The authority for licensing
residential and day treatment facilities and child placement
agencies remains in the department of human services.
  • Early childhood workforce development (pgs 330-335).
The bill requires the department to create a plan for
recruiting, training, and retaining a well-compensated,
well-prepared, high-quality early childhood workforce and
specifies the issues to be addressed. The department must
make the plan publicly available on the department's
website and submit a copy to the early childhood leadership
commission, the governor's office, and committees of the
general assembly. The department must collaborate with
other state departments to periodically review and assess
the implementation of recruitment, preparation,
professional development, and retention initiatives for the
early childhood workforce.
Transfer of department of education programs: Effective July
1, 2022, the bill transfers responsibilities concerning early childhood
workforce development, including the professional development
information system, from the department of education to the department.
Effective July 1, 2023, the bill moves the authority to operate a statewide
preschool program from the department of education to the department.
Colorado universal preschool program (pgs 183-225): The bill
creates the Colorado universal preschool program to provide 10 hours per
week of preschool services for children in the year preceding eligibility
for kindergarten, including children with disabilities (universal preschool
services); preschool services for all 3-year-old children with disabilities
and a limited number of other 3-year-old children who are in low-income
families or meet qualifying factors; preschool services for children
younger than 3 years of age in limited circumstances; and additional
hours of preschool services in the year preceding eligibility for
kindergarten (additional preschool services) for children who are in
low-income families or meet qualifying factors.
The department shall administer the preschool program, which will
begin enrolling students for the 2023-24 school year. The department
shall work with the LCOs to make available throughout the state a mixed
delivery system of public and private preschool providers to
accommodate parent choice. The executive director shall, by rule,
establish quality standards, as described in the bill, that preschool
providers must meet. The department shall collaborate with the
department of education through an interagency agreement to ensure all
3- and 4-year-old children with disabilities are served in accordance with
federal and state requirements for children with disabilities.
The department shall implement a process of continuous
evaluation and improvement for preschool providers and contract with an
independent evaluator to measure the preschool program's success in
improving the overall learning and school readiness of children who are
served in the preschool program. The department shall publicly
communicate the evaluation results and consider the results in reviewing
the preschool quality standards; recruiting, training, and retaining a
high-quality early childhood workforce; and establishing goals for the
preschool program.
The department shall annually establish per-child rates for
universal preschool services; preschool services for children 3 years of
age and, in limited circumstances, younger; and additional preschool
services. The department shall by rule establish the formulas for
determining the per-child rates, taking into account the cost of providing
preschool services and variations in the cost resulting from regional
differences and circumstances and from characteristics of children who
enroll in the preschool program. In addition to distributing preschool
program funding based on the per-child rates, the department may
distribute funding to preschool providers to achieve specified purposes.
The department shall distribute the funding to preschool providers
throughout the fiscal year based on preschool enrollment, and each
preschool provider shall use the funding only to pay the costs of
providing preschool services.
In allocating the preschool funding, the department must prioritize
funding for universal preschool services, including services for children
with disabilities; preschool services for 3-year-old children with
disabilities; and preschool services for other 3-year-old, and in limited
circumstances younger, children up to a specified amount. The
department may then allocate funding for additional preschool services,
first for children who are in low-income families and meet qualifying
factors, and for specified purposes.
Each preschool provider that is a school district or charter school
shall provide preschool and special education local contribution amounts
that are based on the school district's local share of 50% of its per pupil
revenues and the number of children enrolled by the school district or
charter school in preschool for the 2022-23 fiscal year and the number of
3-year-old children with disabilities that the school district or charter
school annually enrolls in preschool. The department shall decrease the
amount of preschool funding distributed to each school district and
charter school based on the amount of the school district's or charter
school's local contributions.
Funding for the preschool program is paid from money
appropriated to the preschool programs cash fund (fund), which consists
of a portion of the taxes collected on sales of cigarettes and other tobacco
and nicotine products and other amounts that the general assembly
transfers or appropriates to the fund. For the 2023-24 fiscal year and each
fiscal year thereafter, the general assembly is required to transfer to the
fund an amount equal to the state share of total program attributable to
preschool enrollment for the 2022-23 fiscal year, increased annually by
the rate of inflation, plus an amount necessary to ensure that all 3-year-old
children with disabilities who are enrolled in the preschool program are
funded at the per-child rate for the applicable fiscal year.
Beginning in January of 2024, the department shall include in its
annual SMART Act report specified information concerning
implementation of the preschool program and post the information on the
department's website.
Conforming amendments (pgs 335-485): The bill makes
substantive and technical conforming amendments to address the
relocation of programs and functions to the department, including
re-creating the provisions for licensing residential and day treatment
facilities and child care placement agencies by the department of human
services.

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