Project Abstract

Between 2021 and 2022, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) received over $700 million in federal and state stimulus funding to address pandemic recovery needs and strengthen Colorado’s early childhood sector. Stimulus funds supported over 60 strategies that align with CDEC’s strategic goals:

  • Expanding access to early childhood services
  • Investing in Colorado’s early childhood workforce
  • Strengthening families

Evaluation of the stimulus-funded activities is complex because the funds are being dispersed in a variety of ways and at different points in time. Also, many stimulus-funded strategies have shared outcomes of interest, which requires an evaluation approach that recognizes the interrelated nature of the stimulus-funded work. CDEC has contracted with the Colorado Lab to serve as the Early Childhood Evaluation Hub. The evaluation hub coordinates and oversees high-quality evaluations of nearly 20 stimulus-funded strategies, conducted by selected local and national research experts, and provides strategic visioning and consultation support beyond stimulus evaluation work.

The Hub approach ensures the goals of evaluation work are met and identifies opportunities for ongoing learning, scalability, and sustainability. This model:

  • Streamlines and shortens the time required to provide emerging insights
  • Reduces evaluation and administrative burdens for the state
  • Harnesses the knowledge and expertise of a network of seasoned evaluators
  • Proactively coordinates evaluation design, planning, and implementation efforts
  • Utilizes multi-sector administrative data, leveraging the Linked Information Network of Colorado (LINC) where appropriate
  • Aligns findings to activate learnings in policy and program improvements
  • Develops an evidence base to strengthen Colorado’s early childhood system

Agencies: 

Colorado Department of Early Childhood

Research Partners: 

Brodsky Research and Consulting: Dr. Andrew Brodsky

Marzano Research: Dr. Carrie Germeroth

MDRC & MetrixIQ: Dr. Cynthia Miller

Schultz Patel Evaluation: Dr. Maggie Schultz Patel &
Dr. Debbie Gowensmith

University of Denver, Butler Institute for Families: Dr. Ann Wacker; Dr. Meg Franko & Dr. Jessica Francis

University of Denver, Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab: Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein

Partner Resource

CDEC supports a stimulus website with information specific to the strategies supported by the stimulus funding, including each strategy’s goal, funding amount, available data, learnings, and next steps.

Hub Outputs

Evidence-Building Briefs
The Colorado Lab supported evaluation teams to produce evidence-building briefs for the stimulus strategies being evaluated. Each brief provides early insights from the initial phases of evaluation work using the Evidence-Based Decision-Making framework.

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    Access to Inclusive Care: Project Include (Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering, University of Colorado Denver)

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    Apprenticeship Program
    (Butler Institute for Families, University of Denver)

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    CDA Support Specialist Program
    (Butler Institute for Families, University of Denver)

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    Recruitment and Retention Scholarship Program, and Free 1011 and 1031 Coursework (Butler Institute for Families, University of Denver)

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    Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Consultation
    (Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab)

    ECHub_purple cog1

    Early Literacy and Family Engagement: Imagination Library
    (Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab)

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