If you’ve ever met Heather Blanco, you know there’s a time to laugh and a time to get serious. Blanco, who is Early Childhood Council of Larimer County’s Early Care and Education Director, can roll with the punches and adapt to nearly any challenge thrown her way. But when it comes to early care and education, she doesn’t take her work or commitment to early care and education lightly.
“I taught for 10 years, and I knew I wasn’t done with what I wanted to do in early childhood,” Blanco said. “I had more to give and there’s so much more to be done.”
That’s exactly why Blanco joined the Council’s team in 2019 as an Early Childhood Coach.
“Heather Soderberg was our coach at the site where I taught prior to joining the Council,” Blanco said. “I was so impressed with what she did and how she did it. I knew I wanted to be involved one way or another with ECCLC.”
Leading Through Experience
Shortly after Blanco took the coaching job, she transitioned to Early Care and Education Manager when the position became open a few months later.
“I was ready to take all the experience I had with children, colleagues, and in the field, and move it up a level that could truly impact early care and education as a system,” she said. “I spent my career as a teacher paying attention and listening. I’m now in a different role but still very much one with educators.”
Blanco was promoted to Early Care and Education Director this summer, and she now leads a team of four Early Childhood Coaches and our Early Care & Education Program Associate.
“We’re getting more of a spotlight on the importance of early care and education and how the people involved in children’s lives play such a huge role in how children form opinions, relationships, learn, develop, and thrive. And the benefits go well beyond children, too,” Blanco said. “But now, more than ever, it’s time to help people get more serious about really investing in and focusing on quality early care and education.”
Making an Impact Beyond the Council
While Blanco certainly plays a lead in doing so at the Council, she is also taking on two new roles to continue to move the needle for the field. This past summer, she joined the board of directors for the Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, which supports early childhood professionals through affordable and accessible professional development opportunities, advocates at the state and federal levels, cultivates a supportive statewide network of early childhood professionals, and uplifts voices of teachers (learn more about COAEYC here).
“I’m really excited to help further the importance of early childhood within the whole state of Colorado,” Blanco said. “NAEYC [the national parent membership organization of COAEYC] is such an important organization for professionals, and I’m really looking forward to elevating their work locally here in Colorado.”
In addition, Blanco is also slated to teach Introduction to Early Childhood Education (ECE 101) at Front Range Community College starting August 23. The class is one of the first that aspiring early childhood educators take as they work toward their Early Childhood Education certification or degree.
“Helping people who are interested in the field is one of my passions,” Blanco said. “We need more early childhood educators, and I’m thrilled to play a part in ensuring more people get into the field.”
Blanco looks forward to changes ahead for early care and education. “It’s finally starting to get some of the recognition it deserves,” she said. “It’s not all the way there, but at least we’re on the guest list. We weren’t even thought of until recently.”
While Blanco’s energy and efforts stay focused on early care and education during working hours, outside of the grind, she unwinds by spending time with her husband Ruben, daughter Sofi, and their dogs. She loves to camp and rock out to live music. In addition to being Sofi’s biggest fan, Blanco is a world traveler and loves to venture anywhere she hasn’t been yet.
Learn more about Blanco on our staff page here.