Much of the federal relief aid sent to Colorado’s child care providers during the pandemic helped keep doors open and businesses solvent.
But one small stream of federal COVID funding — $23 million — was used for innovation in the sector rather than its survival. That money was distributed through the CIRCLE Grant program and helped fund more than 200 projects around the state. The projects included weekly bilingual preschool classes for Armenian-American children, a training program for Head Start parents working as classroom aides, and a loan program to help child care employees cover emergency expenses.
While the grant funding represents a fraction of the $678 million in federal COVID relief sent to Colorado’s early childhood sector, program leaders are proud of the grassroots efforts it sparked.
“Once again, we are seeing that folks that are closest to the problems have the best solutions,” said Jennifer Stedron, executive director of Early Milestones Colorado, which distributed the CIRCLE grants.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.