Join Our Newsletter

ECCLA Newsletter: Winter 2023

ECCLA Winter 2023 Newsletter

Director’s Message

As we settle into the long months of winter I have been reminded more than once that winter is a time for rest and renewal. Winter brings a natural slowing down to all living things. In my neck of the woods, this is pretty obvious as we are blanketed in a few feet of snow, surrounded by bare aspen trees, and have seen minimal animal activity in the last several weeks. But it can be easy to forget in our Early Childhood world where so much is happening at what feels like a very quick pace. When I was juggling running a center, being a new mom, and finishing my dissertation I used to joke that I was staying above water, as long as I had a snorkel. The other day I heard someone say we have now all adapted and grown gills so that we don’t need to stay above water anymore. This just highlights how challenging this time has become for early childhood. Whether we are focused on launching Universal Preschool in our community, supporting providers with workforce challenges (or dealing with our own workforce challenges), working on getting new programs built, trying to complete school, or addressing the age-old struggles of access and affordability it can feel very overwhelming, especially when our deepest instincts may be saying slow down.

Winter also reminds me though, that this season will pass. The Mountain Blue Birds will be back soon to brighten our white world, and then the aspens will begin to bud and soon we will be wishing for the monsoon rain! My kiddo will be a year older and things that have been in the planning stages for years will have come and gone. Likewise, in our Early Childhood world, this same phenomenon will happen. Kiddos and families will enter our programs, homes, and classrooms. They will touch our Early Childhood Councils, be served by our Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants, and they will grow up. The thing I cling to when it is all rushing by so fast–when I feel like I am swimming with gills and I can’t slow down, is that it is also going by so fast for them. And it is exactly for this reason that we all do this work. The first five years, maybe eight, if we are lucky, goes by so fast . . . all we can do is our best for each child we serve in this moment, in this season. I hope everyone can take the time to rest and renew this winter. But also, I hope everyone gets a chance to bring their heads above the water for a few minutes and see the immense impact this busy season has on children and families across Colorado!

Maegan Lokteff, PhD
ECCLA Executive Director


Welcome, Cheryl!

We want to express a belated welcome to the newest member of the ECCLA team, Cheryl Gould. Cheryl joined ECCLA in October as the part-time Scholarship and Career Administrative Assistant. Cheryl is an excellent support to our workforce support programs and is here to help answer questions, guide students through the application process, and provides administrative support to all scholarship programs.

“I have lived in Canon City all my life.  I have been married for 40 years and have 2 grown children and 2 granddaughters.  I have owned and operated a large for-profit child care center here in Fremont County for 27 years. I was honored to be named Early Childhood Professional in 2017.  I believe in education and that we always have something to learn not only from professional development and college coursework but also from each other.  We all have a story and we all need someone to share the path with.”


Child Care Navigation Spotlight: Renee Sasse, El Paso County

In early 2022, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (formerly Office of Early Childhood) contracted with Colorado’s Early Childhood Councils to deliver services related to Family Child Care Navigation and Access and Outreach of Care Navigation. The funding for these positions builds upon the important work that Early Childhood Councils are already doing in their communities and gives them additional resources to continue to meet local needs through support, technical assistance, and outreach to providers who are licensed or interested in becoming licensed.
While the intent is the same across Colorado, we all know that every community in this geographically diverse state is incredibly unique. For the next few newsletters, we will continue to use this space to share what Family Child Care Home Navigation and Access and Outreach of Care Navigation looks like in different communities across Colorado. Today we’re traveling to El Paso County!

Meet Renee Sasse, the Family Child Care Home Navigator for Joint Initiatives Alliance for Kids in El Paso County. Renee was a family child care provider for six years before transitioning into coaching for other family child care providers in 2011. She worked as a family child care coach with a Staffed Network, The Home Network of the Pikes Peak Region, on different initiatives such as: CDA, National Family Child Care Accreditation, business practices, best practices and brought awareness of tools FCCH providers can use to improve interactions, assessments and business practices. She also has extensive background and experience with the resources available to family child care providers.

Can you tell us about your role as a Family Child Care Home Navigator? What does that look like?
I love connecting with the providers through phone calls, emails, Communities of Practice meetings, and at the local Association meetings. Through outreach and inbound contact I have been able to assist providers with finding different resources and contacts they may have questions about. I am grateful that being a Family Child Care Navigator allows me the opportunity to attend the pre-licensing class our county offers and we can support the pre-licensed providers through the licensing process. 

What kind of supports can you provide for family child care home providers and individuals who are interested in becoming licensed?
I am able to go into the pre-licensed provider’s house and do a pre-walkthrough to look for obvious things they may need correct before licensing does their inspection. I attend pre-licensing classes to begin building relationships with the pre-licensed providers. I review handbooks/policies and give guidance on those and other documents. We provide an in-person Community of Practice (COP) for pre-licensed and newly licensed (within the last 3 years) providers and focus in on specific topics – such as the one-pagers developed. We have guest speakers talk on the topics that the providers hear about in pre-licensing but may have more questions about the programs. I share information about the grants that they are eligible for and where to find the grants. I also work very closely with providers in helping them with background checks. 

What has been your favorite thing about being a Family Child Care Navigator for your community?
I love connecting with and supporting the family child care providers in the community! The relationships that I get to develop with the providers are priceless. Having been in the field for as long as I have, I have heard many of the providers’ names. I am finally getting to put faces to names! Many of them are self-sufficient, but when they do need assistance they are very grateful. 

Do you have any tips for providers who are going through the pre-licensing process?
The biggest tip I have for pre-licensed providers is to have patience. Each step of the process has a period of waiting and working with a Family Child Care Navigator can help you work ahead while they wait for the next step.

What would you say to someone who is interested in becoming a licensed home provider but doesn’t know where to start?
I would tell someone who is interested in becoming a licensed home provider that they have come to the right place! Then, I would tell them to contact our Early Childhood Council to register for the pre-licensing class and to begin their application for licensing on Colorado Shines Provider Hub. I would also tell them to call me with any questions because I am here to help them through the process!

Councils do amazing work across the state, but there are some community members who may not know about them. If you could talk to them, what would you want them to know about your Council?
I would want our community members to know that the Early Childhood Council (Alliance for Kid/Joint Initiatives) is here to support young children and their families in the community. They have many resources for Early Childcare Educators, children, and families. They work as an advocate for the children and families in El Paso County.  Alliance for Kids/Joint Initiatives wants to ensure that families thrive and ALL children develop their potential!

Coaches Corner

  • Thank you to everyone who attended the presentation by ECCLA’s Justice, Equity, and Belonging (J.E.B.) Collaborative at the 2022 Whole Child Consultative Roles Conference on December 1. If you are interested in accessing the slide deck from that presentation or exploring the Equity Decision-Making Tool, you can click the links or visit the J.E.B. Resources page.
  • The application for the Business Administration Scale training closes on February 10th. This opportunity is for Council Staff only.
  • Dynamic Coaching Systems hosts free professional development webinars every 3rd Thursday of the month. You can view the schedule here.


Workforce Supports Program Updates

What’s New?

ECCLA also has these other scholarship opportunities available:

Back to Work: Early Childhood Education Scholarship Program

ECCLA’s Back to Work: Early Childhood Education Scholarship Program supports early childhood professionals who were impacted by COVID-19 as they earn college degrees and certificates related to early childhood education. Back to Work has been active since Spring 2022 and will continue through Spring 2024- there’s still time to apply! 

Back to Work has supported over 60+ students who have earned over 531 credits4 degrees, and 5 certificates- and counting! Check out the impact Back to Work had during the Fall 2022 Semester below:


See how Back to Work can impact your education and career!
To Learn More: Visit
To Apply: Visit


Concurrent Enrollment Scholarship Program 

ECCLA released the Early Childhood Concurrent Enrollment Pilot Scholarship during the fall 2022 semester! This scholarship opportunity is intended to help high school students interested in early childhood education receive the financial, educational, training, and field support that they need to transition successfully into the ECE field. We received 17 applications and have 15 students in their junior and senior years of high school actively participating in the pilot cohort. They are residents of Adams, Conejos, Eagle, Garfield, Lincoln, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Morgan, and Phillips counties. Fifty-three percent of these students are currently employed or are completing practicum hours in a licensed early childhood setting! The cohort meets virtually twice monthly and discusses topics like professional development, licensing, quality rating, social-emotional development, behavior management, cultural responsiveness, and the Colorado Shines PDIS.

Rural R.U.N. Scholarship Program

ECCLA’s Rural Reskilling, Upskilling, Next-Skilling (R.U.N.) Scholarship Program provides career counseling and tuition support to early childhood professionals in rural communities seeking to reskill, upskill, or next-skill:

  • Reskilling, which supports unemployed and underemployed workers to change industries in order to return to work or obtain more appropriate work based on their skills;
  • Upskilling, which assists workers in increasing skill levels to retain or advance in their employment; or
  • Next-skilling, which supports workers in developing future-ready skills necessary for employment in the twenty-first century.

The Rural R.U.N. Scholarship currently has ten (10) scholarship recipients! Students are currently working on National Director Credentials, CLASS® Observation Certifications, Environment Rating Scales® Trainings & Certifications, and Director Certifications! Rural R.U.N. can help you earn any of the following credentials: 

To Learn More: Visit
To Apply: Visit

This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRF0126 awarded to the State of Colorado by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Colorado Scholarship

The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Colorado Scholarship Program supported 95 students during the fall 2022 semester and is still accepting applications for the spring 2023 semester! 

T.E.A.C.H. has new models, including the Early Childhood Community Specialist Model for early childhood professionals who do not work in an early learning setting but serve the field in another capacity. To learn more about our program models for early childhood professionals, eligibility, and to apply, please visit T.E.A.C.H.’s recently re-designed page at

T.E.A.C.H Scholar Milestones

We would like to congratulate the following recipients for meeting their milestones during the fall 2022 semester:

Cristina Herman – Bachelor’s degree
Jennifer Gardner – Bachelor’s degree
Lisa Zubia – Associate degree
Michelle Kurtz – Director Qualification 
Sara Reed – Director Qualification 

Congratulations on your hard work and accomplishments!



Comments are closed.
Skip to content