By Christina Walker, director, policy and advocacy, Clayton Early Learning
If you’re anything like me – a political nerd at heart – you’re probably still reeling from the excitement of the November 6 midterm elections! The country saw the highest voter turnout for midterm elections since 1966 and Colorado’s rate was one of the highest in the country with just under 60 percent of Colorado voters participating in this year’s election. At Clayton we are processing the results of the election and planning for the upcoming 2019 legislative session.
The state’s legislature will experience a shift in power for the 2019-20 General Assembly, as Democrats gained control of the State Senate by a two seat majority. (Republicans controlled the State Senate for the past four years.). Also, Democrats maintained control of the House, and increased their number of seats.
Further, current U.S. Representative Jared Polis – a Democrat - succeeded in his gubernatorial bid against Walker Stapleton, the Republican candidate, and will be joined by Lieutenant Governor-Elect Dianne Primavera.
Also of note was the failure of Amendment 73, a statewide constitutional ballot measure that would have raised revenue from an income tax measure to increase financial support of the state’s public school system. The amendment would have made significant changes to our state’s school finance formula to create a more equitable public school system across the state. While Amendment 73 did not pass, other opportunities to increase funding for the early years is likely, given that Governor-elect Polis included early childhood funding – specifically full-day kindergarten and universal preschool - in his campaign platform.
Moving forward, Clayton plans to bring increased attention to the many issues that affect our state’s youngest children – infants and toddlers - and their families. We know that parents across Colorado are struggling to find affordable high-quality child care for their infants and toddlers. In fact, there are many communities that have no licensed slots for babies, leaving parents with little to no choice in child care, which forces some to leave the workforce altogether.
Claytons wants Colorado to one day be the best place in the nation for families to raise their children. We want all pregnant women and people, parents or caregivers, and their children, to have access to the physical and mental health supports they need. For instance, paid family and medical leave would be a helpful support for families, and would give parents the opportunity to bond with their children during a crucial time of their development. And we have seen so many parts of the state investing in their communities, which allows them to provide the services that their families need.
No matter the party in control, Clayton Early Learning works to positively impact policies that affect Colorado’s youngest children and their families by sharing our subject matter expertise with policymakers; 2019 will be no different. In the coming year, Clayton will continue to partner with advocates to protect the gains that have been made on behalf of children and families during the past several years, and to provide our expertise on early childhood development and education. We look forward to partnering with others, educating new policymakers, and promoting the good work happening here on Clayton’s campus and across the state to increase access to high-quality early care and learning experiences, particularly for the most underserved communities. To see the greatest impacts, we know investing earlier is better. Even though they can’t vote quite yet, we urge policymakers to remember their youngest constituents are vital to the future of our state and nation!