As many of you know, the shortage of early childhood professionals is one of the biggest challenges facing the child care industry right now. In partnership with child care providers, community leaders, counties, and other stakeholders, the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) recently announced its plans for addressing this issue as well as an opportunity for you to get involved.

  • Workforce Strategies: As part of the state and federal stimulus funding received during the COVID-19 pandemic, the OEC is funding a number of workforce strategies. Learn more about these strategies here.
  • Credentialing Waivers: As the OEC works through a backlog of about 830 early childhood credentials, they are offering waivers to ensure professionals can immediately begin working in the classroom while their credential is being processed.
    • For those using the Early Childhood Professional Credential to meet licensed child care requirements, any credentials that expired after November 1, 2020, remain valid until the backlog has been eliminated and expected approval timelines are reestablished. A waiver or additional documentation is not required; however, Large Center Directors must keep a copy of their staff’s most recent qualification letter and Credential on file for review by licensing.
    • For those who do not have access to their current Credential and cannot obtain or renew a Credential for staff qualifications, Directors may complete an affidavit for a current or incoming employee. Through the affidavit process the Director will verify that to the best of their knowledge, utilizing the Early Childhood Professional Credential Worksheet, the staff member meets Early Childhood Qualifications. The affidavit is valid for Early Childhood Teachers. Child care programs must keep the affidavit and corresponding worksheet and documents in the staff member’s file for review and verification by licensing. This waiver option will be updated to reflect current Early Childhood Professional Credential 3.0 by October 1, 2021. This waiver option will remain valid until the backlog has been eliminated and expected approval timelines are reestablished.
    • The Colorado Department of Education team, that supports the credential process, will also be:
      • Awarding more rapidly with the documents that a user submits (rather than requesting additional documentation).  A process map is viewable at the bottom of this post.
      • Assisting the Help Desk Team, so the CDHS help desk can respond to technical log-in issues with the new PDIS system, and the CDE help desk can review credentials.
  • Proposed Changes to Child Care Center Rule Package: The OEC is also committed to balancing both flexibility to support staffing needs and the health and safety of children. There are 53 pathways to become qualified to provide child care in Colorado.  a 6-month-long review process of public input, the OEC has also proposed areas for expanded flexibility for programs in the latest Child Care Center Rule Package.
    • Decrease required experience across all qualifications by at least 3 months;
    • Expand accepted degrees;
    • Decrease credential levels across all qualifications by one credential level;
    • Increase timeframes for less qualified individuals to substitute for qualified staff;
    • Remove requirement of annual physician health statements for staff and allow for self-reported health history;
    • Add a new grow your own pathway for Assistant Director and remove equally qualified substitute director qualifications;
    • Remove requirement for on-site monthly nurse consultation and replaced with quarterly consultation;
    • Add a new license type of mobile preschool;
    • Create the outdoor space hardship option; and,
    • Remove first floor requirements and allow for infant and toddler care in upper or lower levels of facilities.
  • Informal Gathering: The OEC invites child care providers and other stakeholders who have questions about these issues to join an informal virtual gathering on Wednesday, September 29 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Staff members from the OEC will be available to answer questions and help direct you to resources and support. Register here.