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Guiding Framework

Our Guiding Framework

Providing a guiding framework to ensure all children are valued, healthy and thriving.

Early Childhood Colorado Framework

Conceived in 2008, the Early Childhood Colorado Framework is a shared vision for Colorado’s young children and their families. It guides planning and mobilizes action to ensure all children are valued, healthy and thriving. Updated in 2015 by the Early Childhood Leadership Commission (ECLC), this guiding framework is embraced by foundations, state agencies, nonprofits and early childhood stakeholders across Colorado. Hundreds of Colorado stakeholders informed the creation of the 2015 Framework via surveys, focus groups and meetings.

The Framework includes fundamentals for early childhood progress, strategies for action to effect change in early childhood systems, a description of early childhood domains, and outcomes based on access, quality and equity. It is designed to be the following:

  • Whole-child and family centered
  • For pregnant women and children up to 8 years old
  • Based on strengths
  • Culturally relevant and responsive
  • Focused on outcomes
  • Informed by evidence-based and promising practices
  • Collaborative across sectors

For more background on the Framework, as well as tools for its implementation, data on early childhood in Colorado, information on early childhood programs and other resources, visit the ECLC website.

PCF’s key areas of work

Mesa County Partnership for Children and Families (PCF) is one of 34 early childhood councils (ECCs) in Colorado. The Colorado Legislature established these councils in 2007 to improve services and supports for young children and their families by building local early childhood systems throughout the state. The legislation charged councils with increasing and sustaining the quality, accessibility, capacity and affordability of early childhood services for children 0–5 years old and their families. Councils focus on the areas of early care and education, family support, mental health and health (Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance).

Colorado’s early childhood councils have five core functions, as described below.

Partnerships and engagement

PCF and Colorado’s other ECCs convene community partners to share information and resources, identify issues and solve problems. They promote robust public engagement to elevate early childhood issues in the minds of leaders across the state and throughout the community as a whole.

For example, PCF’s formalized agreements with all three Mesa County school districts help it to increase the quality of care for the community’s 3- to 5-year-olds. ECCs may also collaborate with partners to provide young children with developmental, hearing, vision and oral health screenings; referrals; and follow-up. They facilitate convenings where local Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) providers can meet with other local providers to problem solve together. Working with partners, they create a universal entry point for families to access a range of services.

Capacity building and sustainability

The ECCs, including PCF, also provide continual communitywide assessment, strategic planning, data collection and monitoring to build and sustain local capacity for improvement of early childhood systems.

One way that PCF is working to increase capacity is through its partnership with the Child Care 8,000 initiative, which aims to increase licensed childcare slots in Mesa County from 4,200 to 8,000 by 2022. ECCs also support early childhood systems by bringing local partners and resources together to expand access to nutritious food during the summer. They employ data to analyze disparities among families and work with partners to increase access to services and resources.

Advocacy and policy development

Another core function of Colorado’s ECCs is to advocate for young children and their families, and to educate the community, policymakers and families on policies that promote their healthy development. This includes advocating for local ballot initiatives that would boost resources to support young children and their families; identifying policy gaps to increase equitable access to childcare and assistance; and hosting local legislative forums to support policies that promote the well-being of young children and their families.

Professional development and leadership

To support the healthy development of young children, Colorado’s ECCs work to advance the knowledge and skills of the state’s early childhood providers, educators and families.

Using local Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds, for example, PCF has implemented a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification and related college credit to help boost the number of lead teacher-qualified employees at licensed childcare facilities. PCF also works extensively with early childhood care providers to improve their Colorado Shines quality ratings.

Grant and fiscal management

Finally, PCF and other ECCs steward funds to improve local early childhood services and supports, dispersing them to qualified providers and partners to facilitate effective service delivery. They fundraise on behalf of tuition assistance programs to support low-income families with access to quality early learning programs, and they disperse funds to local childcare providers to implement quality improvement efforts in alignment with funder goals.