Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission. The bill directs the state board of human services (state board) in the department of human services (DHS) to establish licensing standards that will allow an early care and education program to be licensed for a period of time determined by the state board if one or more early childhood educators have pursued DHS-approved early childhood credentials but have not yet completed the credential and other state-board-determined quality, safety, and supervision conditions are met.
The state board shall also promulgate rules allowing an early childhood educator to earn points toward an early childhood credential based on the candidate's prior experience and demonstrated competency.
The bill directs DHS and the department of education (CDE) to streamline and align the early childhood professional credential, child care program licensing, and educator licensing to make requirements clear and consistent and to reduce the administrative burden and paperwork burden relating to credentialing and licensing of early childhood educators.
The bill directs DHS to analyze and prepare a written report every 2 years on the gap between Colorado's current supply of early childhood educators and the current and future need for early childhood educators in the state. The report will be posted on DHS's website.
The bill directs DHS and CDE to direct resources to support concurrent enrollment opportunities and career pathways for high school students and other nontraditional students interested in earning college credit toward becoming an early childhood educator.
The bill creates the early care and education recruitment and retention grant and scholarship program in DHS (grant and scholarship program). DHS shall administer the program directly or by contract. The state board shall establish an application process for the grant and scholarship program, and DHS shall award grants and scholarships to eligible individuals or entities for the purposes of increasing the number of individuals qualified as early childhood educators to teach in a program serving children 5 years of age or younger and to retain early childhood educators teaching in those programs.
Individuals and entities eligible for a grant or scholarship include individuals pursuing a career in early childhood education, nonprofit entities that administer scholarship programs aligned with the purposes of the grant and scholarship program, licensed early care and education programs, and institutions of higher education that administer scholarship programs aligned with the purposes of the grant and scholarship program.
The bill includes a list of eligible expenditures of the grant or scholarship money, including, among others, payment of tuition and other expenses for courses that lead to a degree or credential as an early childhood educator or a higher degree or qualification that results in retention of an educator; payment for the costs of coaching, mentoring, professional development, and other costs and programs that lead to credentialing; payments to licensed providers; and money for programs, schools, and institutions of higher education to establish "grow-your-own" programs to support individuals completing qualifications to become early childhood educators.
The bill creates a fund for the grant and scholarship program and requires DHS to report on the grant and scholarship program at least every 2 years and post the report on its website.
The bill creates the early childhood educator apprenticeship program (apprenticeship program) in the division of employment and training (division) in the department of labor and employment (CDLE). The division shall administer the apprenticeship program. The executive director of CDLE shall establish program standards relating to eligibility criteria for local entities, including workforce development programs, nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and early childhood councils, to receive money to support existing apprenticeship programs and to implement new apprenticeship programs for early childhood educators. The bill includes the approved uses of funding provided through the apprenticeship program. The bill creates a fund for the apprenticeship program.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)