Quality early learning sets children on a path to lifelong success. In fact, children who consistently participate in quality early learning programs are 20% more likely to graduate from high school. Furthermore, the academic, and social/emotional foundation established in quality early learning programs serves children throughout life.
In 2020, St. James Preschool was facing low enrollment due to the pandemic. As director of the school, I was considering the difficult decisions of laying off teachers and closing a classroom to keep our preschool open and serving Littleton families. The school’s income simply could not meet the costs of operation, particularly with new COVID protocols in place.
Federal stimulus funds, designed to help early learning centers survive the pandemic, were a lifeline for St. James. We were able to use this money to operate our preschool through the pandemic. Enrollment gradually increased and children in our classrooms are thriving. However, St. James is still not back to pre-pandemic enrollment levels. Like many early learning centers, we operate on a thin budget.
To build back better from the pandemic, early learning centers need greater public support. The Build Back Better Act will help early learning thrive, in our state and nation.
It includes $400 billion for child care and early learning, including funds to increase wages for early learning professionals — a key to quality early learning — and funding to make preschool available to all children.
This act is a wise investment, and will provide support that the Colorado schools, children, and families need.
Director, St. James Preschool
Early Childhood Consultant, St. James Preschool