Raise Colorado stewards, Christina Walker and Jacy Montoya Price, have highlighted a few key pieces of legislation moving through the 2020 legislative session and ways Buell Leaders can step up for infants, toddlers, and their families.
Every year from mid-January to early May, the Colorado General Assembly gathers at the State Capitol to learn about critical issues facing our state, debate and vote on legislation, and create and balance the Colorado state budget. The 2020 legislative session is shaping up to be an exciting year for early childhood.
Legislators need to hear from YOU – their constituents and experts in early childhood – to make the best decisions for all of Colorado’s youngest children.
Clayton Early Learning, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, and a steering committee of diverse stakeholders co-convene the Raise Colorado Coalition. This statewide coalition takes collective action to promote bold public policy and change public perception regarding the health and well-being of pregnant people, new families, infants, and toddlers. Raise Colorado supports all Colorado’s children and families during the prenatal period through the earliest years to ensure healthier communities, a stronger workforce, and a more robust economy now and into the future.
We know that babies are born with unlimited potential, and helping them thrive from birth to age 3 sets a strong foundation for the rest of their lives. We also know that when parents do well, their children do well, too. But parents across the state are struggling to find affordable, quality child care, particularly for infants. There are many communities that have no licensed slots for babies, leaving parents to cobble together unstable care arrangements or exit the workforce altogether. That is why we are working with partners to implement the Senate Bill 063 Infant and Family Child Care Strategic Action Plan, to increase the number of licensed family child care home educators and infant slots across the state.
Raise Colorado also advocates for additional supports for families that need a little extra support during the prenatal period or while raising young children. Voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs are one strategy that meets families “where they are,” decreasing barriers to participation, such as lack of secure transportation. These two- or multi-generational programs build families’ knowledge and capacity to support their children’s development and learning, while also helping the parents seek the supportive services they need to thrive.
In order for Colorado to become the best state in the nation to raise a family, all working people need access to paid family and medical leave. This essential support for families would give parents the opportunity to bond with their children during a crucial time of their development, while also providing the family with the economic security they need. A statewide social insurance program would create a sustainable fund created through shared costs to employees and employers. This model – vetted and successful in several other state – keeps working people, families, businesses, and the economy vital and healthy.
We are working hard to connect the voices of community members – rural, urban, and frontier – to the policy-making process. We have heard from parents across the state that the high cost of living, lack of affordable, safe housing, and need for public transit options hinder their ability to provide for their families. Through partnerships with unlikely allies within the housing and economic security fields, we are also advocating for the expanding the basic cash assistance program, increasing outreach funds for Colorado’s food stamp program, and assisting families who face barriers to getting permanent housing.
For more information on getting involved in the Raise Colorado Coalition, visit www.raisecolorado.org or contact:
Christina Walker, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Clayton Early Learning, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacy Montoya Price, Manager of Advocacy, Colorado Children’s Campaign, email@example.com