The act directs the state board of human services (state board) in the department of human services (DHS) to establish licensing standards that will allow an early care and education program to be licensed for a period of time determined by the state board if one or more early childhood educators have pursued DHS-approved early childhood credentials but have not yet completed the credential and other state-board-determined quality, safety, and supervision conditions are met. The state board shall also promulgate rules allowing an early childhood educator to earn points toward an early childhood credential based on the candidate's prior experience and demonstrated competency. DHS and the department of education (CDE) shall streamline and align the early childhood professional credential, child care program licensing, and educator licensing to make requirements clear and consistent and to reduce the administrative and paperwork burden relating to credentialing and licensing of early childhood educators. DHS shall analyze and prepare a written report every year, starting in 2022, concerning Colorado's current supply of qualified early childhood educators.
DHS, CDE, and the department of higher education shall direct resources to support concurrent enrollment opportunities and career pathways for high school students and other nontraditional students interested in earning college credit toward becoming an early childhood educator.
The act authorizes DHS to provide technical assistance and financial incentives to programs that are rated at a level one or 2 in the Colorado shines system to support the programs in advancing to a level 3 or higher quality level, and to programs at a level 3, 4, or 5 to support the programs in maintaining a high-quality level or advancing to a higher quality level. The early childhood council (council) may support DHS by providing local community outreach and engagement strategies. A council seeking school-readiness quality improvement funding must describe how the council will target and recruit programs that are rated at a level one or higher and target and recruit programs to increase access and availability of quality care.
The act directs DHS to design, implement, and operate a statewide voluntary program of early childhood mental health consultation (program) by July 1, 2022. The purpose of the program is to support mental health care across the state in a variety of early childhood settings and practices. Specifically, the program must be designed to increase the number of qualified and appropriately trained early childhood mental health consultants (mental health consultants) for on-site consultations and to utilize the mental health consultants, through on-site visits, to support a variety of early childhood settings and practices from the prenatal period through 8 years of age.
The program must also include a model of consultation for mental health consultants (model) that includes job qualifications and expectations, expected outcomes, and guidance on ratios of mental health consultants and the settings they support. Further, the model must include standards and guidelines for mental health consultants developed from evidence-based programs and a professional development plan for mental health consultants.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)