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  • Dawn Alexander

ECEA Child Care Update 7/27/23



 

A preschool in Greeley that has shepherded countless kids through the first years of their education over the past 21 years may welcome its last class of 4-year-olds next month, eyeing an uncertain future as it dives into the state’s newly expanded preschool program.

Nearby, a different preschool that caters to mostly children of low-income families has only been able to fill a quarter of its classrooms for the start of the school year and is weighing its options — which could include closing its doors.


Preschools across Colorado are sprinting to make final preparations for the start of the state’s expanded preschool program, known as universal preschool. And with less than a month until the first day of school, many question whether they’ll have enough state funding to stay open. That question has bubbled up in the past month, after Colorado’s new Department of Early Childhood changed the way it will calculate how much funding preschool providers will receive during their first few months of the program.


Instead of paying a provider for the number of students it has the capacity to educate, as originally promised, the department will now dole out funding based on the number of students enrolled. It might seem like a subtle shift, but to preschool providers who already run their programs on thin margins, it could mean the difference between continuing their classes and closing them down for good.

The new approach “definitely cuts providers off at the knees with their ability to step into this first year of (universal preschool) and have adequate facilities and adequate staff ready to go, trained,” said Scott Bright, owner of ABC Child Development Centers, which has 25 preschool sites across Weld County, six of which will participate in Colorado’s expanded preschool program. “This is a system that providers have been hesitant to jump into because they haven’t gotten clear answers from the departments on how this is all going to go down.”


The Early Childhood department, which has a $322 million budget for its inaugural year of the expanded preschool program, previously pledged to compensate preschools participating in universal preschool based on the number of 4-year-olds they had room to educate, regardless of whether they filled all their seats. That’s a much more predictable and reliable method of funding, providers say.


During a Jan. 12 meeting among members of the department’s Rules Advisory Council, M. Michael Cooke — then a universal preschool representative from Gov. Jared Polis’ office — said that through monthly state payment to providers from August through October, those providers would receive a dollar amount based on their capacity, regardless of whether providers could fill all their seats. Then in November, she added, the department would reassess how many kids had actually enrolled in provider programs and adjust payments based on those numbers.


“We want to be helpful,” Cooke added. “We don’t want to create a situation where we’re creating a budget shortfall for community partners. We don’t want to create a situation where there has to be a layoff of staff.”


However, as the state tried to balance the number of preschool slots available with the number of kids actually being enrolled, it became clear that the scale tipped too far. Data “showed a significantly higher number of available seats in the universal preschool system than participating families,” Early Childhood department spokesperson Hope Shuler wrote in an email to The Colorado Sun, noting that there were about two seats open for every child whose family applied.


Bright, who also serves as board president of the Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado, sees the decision to change funding as something of a bait-and-switch after the Early Childhood department simply couldn’t afford to pay all participating providers for the surplus of preschool slots.


“They realized they ran out of money based on the promise they made, and now providers are left carrying the load,” said Bright, who typically keeps his business afloat with no more than two weeks of operating cash in the bank at any one time.

Without upfront payment from the state for all kids who enroll in universal preschool at his centers, Bright said he won’t have the funds to pay his staff.


Preschoolers whose families enroll them last minute may face a delayed start


Under the revised funding plan, which Shuler said was communicated to providers by June 27, the state assessed the number of kids enrolled in programs on July 9. Programs will receive funding Aug. 8 based on that count of kids. However, the latest round of matching preschoolers with specific programs — so far it has facilitated four sets of matching — was completed later in July. That means providers could end up with preschoolers on the first day of classes who they haven’t been paid to educate. They won’t receive funding for those students until the next payment from the state, scheduled for Sept. 8.


Each month from August through May, Shuler said, providers will receive a payment determined by the number of students enrolled in their program on the 15th of the previous month. The sum will be adjusted each month so that the amount given to providers accounts for any enrollment swings and reflects the number of students in their classrooms.

That leaves providers like Bright feeling pinched.



 

 

4th Round matches are being sent to families TODAY 7/27/23.

Enrollment includes the school obtaining verification of birth date, residency, verification of additional hours reasons if applicable, as well as school enrollment procedures. Enrollment has to be entered by school on portal.


  • Four-year-old children with an IEP as the only qualifying factor: Eligible for 15 hours/week of UPK funding. Children may still choose to attend a full-day (or 30 hours/week) program if there is an open seat available with a provider that can implement a child’s IEP. If parents/caregivers believe the child’s IEP currently requires more than 15 hours of services, they have been instructed to contact the special education director for their school district or administrative unit to discuss a placement that aligns with the student’s IEP.

  • Four-year-old children with an IEP and another qualifying factor: Qualify for up to 30 hours/week or “full day” funding for UPK. This funding covers the program required by the student’s IEP, plus supplemental hours to increase the student to a full day of care.

    • If a child is enrolled in a full day program with UPK, they do not need to take further action

    • Children enrolled in a part-time or half day program: To take advantage of this full-day funding, parents/caregivers would need to work with their school district or BOCES to find a program with availability where the child’s IEP can be implemented. At this time, not all providers offer full-day programming and not all providers can implement a student’s IEP. If the child is already enrolled with a preschool provider that the school district has verified can implement the child’s IEP, there is no need to make any changes at this time if they wish to stay in the current placement with the current number of hours per week. This is fully covered by the state’s funding at no cost to the family.

Are you contracted to do UPK? Do you have a family of a 3 year old that needs continuity of care in your program and qualifies for 3 year old UPK? Here's a mini-contract that you can ask to use to make that happen! The President of the ECEA Board, Scott Bright developed this to support providers statewide. It's been vetted by a couple of school districts as a workable document. NOW you have the ability to approach your School District Administrator to support a family with their request! Modify to meet your districts needs!

 


This plan includes outcomes of last years Wildly Important Goals, departmental plans and this years Wildly Important Goals for the department. Read up on it here: https://www.coloradoecea.org/post/cdec-2023-2024-performance-plan

 


Will individuals be able to backdate their FAMLI claims?

A FAMLI leave claim needs to be opened within 30 days after the first date of absence in order to be considered for FAMLI benefits. Any FAMLI claim file between 31-90 days after the first date of absence will be considered if the Claimant establishes good cause for the delay. (7 CCR 1107-3.6.4)



 


Contact Peggy: Peggy@coloradoecea.org


 

Let your lawmakers know how much PDG B-5 funding has meant to your state BY JULY 31.


Find details at:


 










 

Colorado’s paid sick leave law will expand August 7th.

(We are sharing this article in it's entirety as it says everything that needs to be said! We just want to make sure you are AWARE!)


DENVER (KDVR) — Coloradans will be able to use paid sick time for more reasons starting in August. Colorado lawmakers passed a law this year to expand the reasons employees can use state-required paid sick leave. Sen. Faith Winter and Reps. Jenny Willford and Junie Joseph, all Democrats, were the prime sponsors.


The new law adds two provisions to what’s allowed for paid sick leave, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment:

  • Bereavement, or financial/legal needs after a death of a family member

  • Due to inclement weather, power/heat/water loss or other unexpected event, the employee must evacuate their residence or care for a family member whose school or place of care was closed.

This adds to what else paid sick leave can be used for in Colorado:

  • Inability to work due to a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition.

  • Obtaining preventive medical care (including vaccination), or medical diagnosis/care/treatment.

  • Needs due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or criminal harassment, including medical attention, mental health care or other counseling, legal or other victim services or relocation.

  • Care for a family member who needs the sort of care listed above.

  • During a PHE, a public official closed the employee’s workplace or the school or place of care of the employee’s child.

A separate provision that required supplemental paid time off for COVID-19 diagnoses and other related needs is no longer in effect. That ended on June 8.

The expanded employee benefit takes effect Aug. 7.


Paid sick leave is required in Colorado

All employers are required to provide an hour of accrued paid sick leave per 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours a year, according to the CDLE. This applies to all workers, including part-time or temporary, except for federal government and some railroad employees.


Employers can ask for documentation for an employee to use paid sick leave, but only for absences that last four or more consecutive days, according to the CDLE. Such documentation can be provided once the leave is over.


 


 

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Make a difference in our industry and JOIN NOW! Our annual fees are reasonable and ensure that the discussions that need to happen are happening for you!

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