DENVER (Feb. 9, 2016) – Colorado Shines, the state’s quality rating and improvement system, is celebrating its first anniversary this month, and since its launch “has exceeded expectations” in connecting families with high quality early care and learning programs.
“It has created access for thousands of families across the state, especially families in low-income areas who may not otherwise have had access to high quality child care,” said Mary Anne Snyder, Director of the Office of Early Childhood. “These families now have a choice about the care and education their children receive during the earliest, and most important, years of their lives.”
Colorado Shines assesses and improves the quality of licensed child care and preschool programs by rating the quality of these programs on a scale of Levels 1-5 and providing incentives to programs investing in and demonstrating high quality. Colorado Shines also provides free tools for families to search for quality rated programs in their community and learn about financial assistance opportunities.
The initiative was launched under the $44.8 million federal grant program “Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC)” to improve the quality of early learning and development programs, while closing the achievement gap for children with high needs.
“Colorado Shines has done just that in the program’s first year,” Snyder said.
Currently, 4,564 programs are quality rated across the state, with 639 of those programs rated at the highest levels of quality (Levels 3-5). Colorado will honor the first two facilities achieving the highest possible ranking, Level 5, during a pair of ceremonies Feb. 16.
Additionally, the state is a major sponsor at the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference (RMECC) from Feb. 19-20. The RMECC provides professional development to over 2,000 early childhood professionals annually. Attendees of the RMECC will have the opportunity to participate in Colorado Shines professional development courses that contribute to their facilities’ quality rating.
“Colorado Shines has exceeded our expectations in its first year,” Snyder maintained. “The Office of Early Childhood looks forward to continuing to accelerate and promote the importance of quality early care and learning programs through Colorado Shines in the months and years to come.”