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 year, starting in 2022, on the gap between concerning 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.
The bill authorizes DHS to provide technical assistance and financial incentives to programs that are rated at a level one or 2 in the Colorado shines system (system) to support the programs in advancing to a level 3 or higher quality level, and to programs at a level 3, 4, or 5 to support the programs in maintaining a high-quality level or advancing to a higher quality level. The early childhood council (council) may support DHS by providing local community outreach and engagement strategies.
A council seeking school-readiness quality improvement funding (funding) must describe how the council will target and recruit programs that are rated at a level one or higher and target and recruit programs to increase access and availability of quality care.
The bill directs DHS to design, implement, and operate a statewide program of early childhood mental health consultation (program). The purpose of the program is to support mental health care across the state in a variety of early childhood settings and practices. Specifically, the program must be designed to:
- Increase the number of qualified and appropriately trained early childhood mental health consultants (mental health consultants) for on-site consultations; and
- Utilize the mental health consultants, through on-site visits, to support a variety of early childhood settings and practices from the prenatal period through 8 years of age.
The program must also include a:
- Model of consultation for mental health consultants (model) that includes job qualifications and expectations, expected outcomes, and guidance on ratios of mental health consultants and the settings they support. The model must include standards and guidelines for mental health consultants developed from evidence-based programs.
- Professional development plan for mental health consultants; and
- Certification process for mental health consultants.
(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)