DENVER (March 8, 2022) — The Polis administration today announced the Community Innovation and Resilience for Care and Learning Equity (CIRCLE) Grants, a community-focused grant program to save families money on child care, strengthen the child care talent pipeline, and help every Colorado child thrive.
“We are saving Coloradans money, investing in today’s workforce and tomorrow’s future, and taking bold steps to ensure every Colorado family has access to affordable, high-quality child care,” said Gov. Jared Polis.
The CIRCLE grants will bring real relief to rural, urban, and suburban communities through innovative solutions that make child care more affordable, fill gaps in infant and toddler care, support the health and well-being of children and families, boost child care workforce preparation, contribute to the health and learning of all children, including those with special needs and dual-language learners, and strengthen child care providers’ business practices to make them financially sustainable.
“This urgent investment in the youngest Coloradans, their families, and the dedicated providers that serve them will save families money and help get parents back to work while giving the next generation more opportunities to learn, grow and succeed. This also will strengthen a sustainable and growing child care system long into the future,” said Michelle Barnes, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services.
“Thanks to these grants, Colorado families are going to save money on child care,” said Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood, who sponsored SB21-236 last year. “Child care costs are eating up more and more of families’ expenses while making it harder for parents to return to the workforce. I’m excited to see this important investment to expand access to affordable child care options move forward.”
“Colorado’s early childcare system is in need of some major upgrades,” said Senator Tammy Story, D-Conifer. “Investing millions of dollars in these critical grant programs will help recruit and retain highly dedicated educators, while increasing overall capacity to give more Colorado kids access to early childhood care and education. The investments we’re making today will ensure we are able to achieve our vision of an early childhood education program that puts Colorado children and families first.”
“We are proud to partner with Gov. Polis and the Office of Early Childhood to advance equity in early care and learning. We are excited to expand our support of local innovation to ensure all Colorado communities provide an environment where children flourish,” said Jennifer Stedron, executive director of Early Milestones Colorado.
The CIRCLE grants will provide nearly $23 million to child care providers and community, education, and government partners across the state, with grants ranging from $10,000 to $750,000 per grant. Proposals for grants of various amounts within the funding range are encouraged. The request for proposal (RFP) will be released on March 15 for a grant period of June 15, 2022 through June 30, 2023. A second round of grant proposals will be accepted in May.
The funding is part of over $275 million from the federal American Rescue Plan and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act the state received for child care purposes.
Gov. Polis and the Colorado General Assembly created the CIRCLE Grant program through a new law last year sponsored by Senators Story and Sonnenberg, and Representatives Tipper and Van Beber. The Colorado Department of Human Services - Office of Early Childhood is implementing the CIRCLE Grant program to support families with young children, child care providers, and early childhood professionals.
The grants are available to a range of providers and partners committed to supporting early childhood in Colorado. This includes all licensed child care providers, including family child care homes, child care centers, and school-based child care programs. It also includes qualified exempt providers under the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, as well as community, education or governmental organizations with innovative ideas to support early childhood in Colorado.
The Office of Early Childhood selected the nonprofit Early Milestones Colorado to distribute the grants to child care providers and other community, education or governmental partners, and to:
- Serve as the key point of contact for questions and information about the CIRCLE Grants.
- Provide grants to eligible providers and organizations to fund innovative solutions to child care challenges exacerbated by the pandemic.
- Provide technical assistance to grantees to accelerate learning and success.
- Support grantees in diversity, equity and inclusion activities that strengthen partnerships and eliminate barriers.
- Partner with grantees to gather data on the impact and outcomes of the initiative.
The RFP will be posted at earlymilestones.org, which will be updated regularly with helpful videos and tools for application submission.
You can also find a link to this information and other stimulus activities at the Office of Early Chidhood’s stimulus website: coecstimulus.com.