DENVER — Governor Jared Polis announced on Wednesday a key milestone in the formation of a new department of early childhood education, moving closer to establishing a universal preschool program in the state.
Polis unveiled the transition plan for the new Department of Early Childhood (DEC) during an event at Meadowood Child Development Center in Aurora.
The department, which is pending final approval, is a result of a voter-approved 2020 imitative, Proposition EE. It will be tasked with figuring out how the state will implement universal pre-k by 2023.
“On this day last year, Coloradans voted for free preschool for every child, an investment in early childhood care and education that supports families and child development,” Polis said. “This new plan is a key step to make this a reality as we prepare for voter-approved funding for all four-year-olds in fall of 2023. I’m excited that with today’s news we can continue to build on Colorado’s longstanding commitment to children and families.”
However, all this change comes as the state is already facing a critical teacher shortage, which is partly a result of low wages, especially in early childhood education.
The state does not require educators in this field to have a bachelor’s degree, and as a result, they earn less and there is a higher turnover rate.
A 2016 study found that only 17 percent of preschool educators in Colorado have a degree in early care and education.
The DEC will begin operations on July, 1 of next year following the legislative session.