The History of ECCLA and Councils
The Consolidated Child Care Pilot Program is established by the Colorado General Assembly through Senate Bill 97-174 and initiates 12 pilot communities. These communities are tasked with consolidating funding sources to create a seamless system, ensuring collaboration among private and public stakeholders, responding to the needs of working parents, and enhancing child care quality.
Senate Bill 99-226 expands the Consolidated Child Care Pilot Program to include an additional six communities. The bill directs all pilot communities to explore innovative models to improve child care licensing and expand early childhood professional development opportunities.
Following the success of the 18 pilot communities, the Colorado General Assembly approves House Bill 07-1062 (HB 1062). The bill renames the pilot communities to “Early Childhood Councils” and allows for coverage of all 64 Colorado counties through an application and funding process.
The goal of HB 1062 is to build upon the success of the pilot communities by increasing and sustaining quality, accessibility, capacity, and affordability of early childhood programs and services for young children 0-5 years and their families. The legislation establishes a common purpose for Councils to develop and implement a comprehensive system of early childhood services to ensure the school readiness of children in the areas of early care and education, family support, mental health, and health.
In 2008, the Early Childhood Leadership Commission establishes the Early Childhood Colorado Framework. Councils work collaboratively with local and state partners to align their resources and efforts within the Framework. After the passage of HB 1062, additional communities begin to organize Early Childhood Councils. The 18 pilot communities soon expand to 30 Councils serving 55 Colorado counties. During this time, ECCLA is an informal collaborative of Council leaders.
With support from Councils, the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA) progresses from an informal collaborative of Councils to a formal 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership association, with the mission to improve access to quality services and supports for young children by developing a strong statewide network of Early Childhood Council leaders and key stakeholders. By 2014, 31 Councils are serving 58 Colorado counties.
Colorado is awarded a federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant which enables the state to focus on child care quality improvement; early childhood professional development; and to develop Colorado Shines, a system to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality for licensed early care and education programs with local implementation through Councils. ECCLA takes a greater role in helping Councils with tools and resources to support child care providers and their participation in resource management. The ecConnect data system is developed, which enables Councils to collect and use programmatic data more effectively, and demonstrate measurable outcomes for early childhood initiatives in Colorado.
The ECCLA Board of Directors hires an Executive Director and the organization grows by adding key staff, raising significant funds from foundation partners, and establishing organizational and operational independence. ECCLA moves from its initial home within Denver’s Early Childhood Council to an independent office in Wheat Ridge and continues to build and leverage a leadership position within Colorado’s early childhood landscape.
With strong collaboration among their communities and across the statewide network of Early Childhood Councils, the number of Councils continues to grow, even while state resources and funding are reduced. To meet these challenges, ECCLA expands efforts to provide technical assistance and capacity building among Councils with the goal of strengthening each community in Colorado to ensure the success of its young children and their families. It is ECCLA’s intention to ensure that each Council has sufficient resources, staff, and capacity to implement their strategic plans so the needs of the communities they serve can be met. Integral to this process, ECCLA is helping Councils enhance resource development through new and innovative models, while supporting other robust capacity building strategies.