By Jeff Todd

DENVER (CBS4) – After more than 100 meetings, state leaders are narrowing in on what the new Department of Early Childhood and funding for pre-K education will look like.

“The more that we can provide high quality experiences for our youngest Coloradans, the better off they will be for their entire lives,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “We really need to figure out a new structure that better serves our children, our families, and our providers.”

For the past few months, the Early Childhood Leadership Commission has been focused on guiding the state with implementing new strategies for kids from infants to 4 years old.

(credit: CBS)

“We have these multiple programs that are run in different agencies and through different entities. It makes it really hard for our families to navigate. And it makes it really hard for our providers to navigate as people are trying to put together funding sources, and figure out how to piece together their ability to afford childcare and preschool,” Sirota said.

Earlier this year the governor announced a new department would form, but exactly how it implements programs for young learners hasn’t been decided yet. Those decisions will need to be finalized by next summer.

“We want it to be easy for families, especially working families who are trying to get back into the workforce, to really be able to find those resources they’re looking,” said Nicole Riehl, who has been advocating as the head of Executives Partnering to Invest in Children in Colorado.

“Think about technology solutions that could be created and or expanded to serve families better. We do have to think differently, we have to think outside the box. And make sure again, that that experience that families and children and educators have is put first and foremost.”

Many people agree that childcare is too expensive and childcare employees are paid too little.

Exactly how the state can bridge the gap, with or without federal help, will need to be decided soon.

“We can’t reshuffle the bureaucracy. We have to build new, and we have to do this in a way that works for everyone most especially our families and children,” Riehl said.

Several proposals will be presented to the Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission at the capitol with the hopes of propelling legislation in the next session.

“The ultimate goal with everything that we are doing is to really improve access to quality, early care and education,” Sirota said.

UPDATE: Gov. Jared Polis Celebrates New Department Of Early Childhood & Pre-K Program Growth

Jeff Todd