ECCLA Winter 2021 News
December is the darkest month of the year in Colorado. It is a time that can bring feelings of hope and joy and also a time that can be especially stressful. December is a great metaphor for what all of us in the early childhood field are experiencing right now. There is so much hope and excitement as we think about the nation’s investment in early care and education through stimulus funding. There has never been more public awareness about the struggles our current system creates for families, teachers, providers, and caregivers. We have never had so many members of Congress talking about early childhood and we have never seen an investment like the Build Back Better Plan could bring. At the same time, the field is stressed almost to a breaking point. Everyone is short-staffed, worried about making ends meet, and exhausted from giving 110 percent. Everyone is overwhelmed and fearful of the long list of changes happening in the field and in the world. But, we are a field of people who care. We won’t let children go without a needed service even if we don’t know how to pay for it. We won’t leave families out or let early childhood professionals be forgotten in all of the planning and implementing. The question becomes: how do we balance the hope and optimism with the overwhelm and the fear? Like December, which reminds us that the sunlight does come back and the days do get longer, we have to remember that change is scary but also good. We may not be able to do business like we always have but the change may mean more children are served. Like December, we have to look for the magic of moments, the child secure in their relationships and ready to explore, the family feeling empowered and connected, or the teacher realizing they do have what it takes. Like December, we have to remember that our field is one of relationships. We have to spend time connecting, listening, and sharing. December can be dark, but it is also full of light when we look for it. Likewise, change can be hard and scary, but it can also lead to a stronger system that better supports young children, their families, and early childhood professionals. During this December I hope for each of you to find your light that keeps you going during the stressful and challenging times.
Maegan Lokteff, ECCLA Executive Director
Back to Work: Early Childhood Education COSI Scholarship Program is now accepting applications!
If you or someone you know has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and want to continue or begin college to earn a degree or certificate in Early Childhood, this scholarship program is a perfect match!
You can learn more about eligibility requirements and supports offered, including enrollment, registration, scholarship, 1:1 support and more on our website.
Welcome to our new team member, Cameron Fall!
We are excited to welcome a new team member! Cameron Fall joined ECCLA in November and administers the new Back to Work: Early Childhood Education COSI Scholarship Program. Cameron is currently attending the University of Colorado Denver to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education & Human Development with a concentration in Early Childhood Education. Cameron has worked in the early childhood field for almost 5 years and has a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. His previous position was at Warren Village as the Administrative Assistant for the Early Learning Center.
ECCLA’s 2022 Policy Agenda
As we prepare to head into what is promising to be a very busy legislative session in 2022 for early childhood in Colorado, ECCLA and our member Councils have been hard at work drafting a Policy Agenda to guide our work and decision making during this process. As identified in our strategic plan, our priority for Policy and Advocacy is to develop and advance a proactive policy agenda that promotes strong early childhood systems across Colorado. Within the framework of our strategic plan we will be focusing on:
- Advocating for a unified Department of Early Childhood that promotes equitable access to high quality coordinated and comprehensive services for young children and families.
- Advocating for and promoting local infrastructure that must be supported and sustainably resourced to deliver on the strategies outlined in the Early Childhood Colorado Framework and to be prepared to deliver on the promise of Universal Preschool and the new Department of Early Childhood.
- Highlighting that Early Childhood Councils and local Child Care Resource and Referral services have a critical and unique role to play in coordinating and ensuring local infrastructure exists that can support the goals of the new department and Universal Preschool.
- Promoting and advocating for a variety of workforce strategies that support recruitment, retention, quality, and competency, including the Early Childhood Educator Tax Credit, universal access to scholarship programs with a focus on T.E.A.C.H. and other opportunities for Higher Education, and assessing, understanding, and applying standards that result in a qualified workforce.
- Supporting policies that ensure all Colorado children have access to universal preventive and developmental screening, referral, and follow-up.
- Support policies that strengthen and increase local access to increased family strengthening services including home visiting, Family Resource Centers, WIC, SNAP, CCCAP, CACFP, child maltreatment prevention, Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and other evidence-based services local communities and state partners identify.
- Work in coordination with the Early Childhood Summit, Raise Colorado, the Home Visiting Task Force, and other entities to support policy and advocacy alignment.
Impact Spotlight: T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship Recipients
Four scholarship recipients reached their educational milestones in August 2021, including Karla Canales, who shared her reflections with ECCLA:
Thanks to the support of the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship, I have recently obtained my Associate of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education!
I am currently an Infant Teacher at YWCA Children’s Alley, a non-profit organization that helps many families in the Boulder community.
Before the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship, I had unofficially lost hope that I could continue my education. My husband and I had accrued a great deal of debt after he lost his job during the 2008 recession. We were working hard to pay it all off, and the last thing I wanted to do was dig us deeper into debt for my college education. My dream to go to college seemed out of reach, and something that only lucky people could attain.
I began working at the YWCA in 2010 as the office manager. I quickly began to value and enjoy the work of providing children with quality care during their precious early years of human life. I took a few classes, so that I could become assistant qualified, and therefore be able to help the teachers at a greater capacity when they needed support. I then went on to earn my Director Qualifications and continued to my associate degree.
I began to appreciate all the development that goes on in a child’s early years, and therefore each interaction I had with the children became more important. However, as one works in a group care setting, it becomes more and more apparent that a continued professional development is necessary to become a higher quality educator.
Other scholarship recipients include:
ECCLA will be opening applications for future T.E.A.C.H. scholarships in early 2022, so keep your eyes peeled for our online application to launch in the coming weeks.