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Early Childhood Stimulus Evaluation Hub

Three preschool children sit on a blue and white carpet while their teacher talks to them

Hub Overview

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.

CDEC contracted with the Colorado Lab to serve as the Early Childhood Stimulus Evaluation Hub. The Hub coordinates and oversees high-quality evaluations of nearly 20 stimulus-funded strategies. Evaluations are conducted by select local and national research experts, reducing administrative burden for the state and producing aligned deliverables to inform decision making. Evaluation teams conduct studies that include all of the steps to building evidence and provide rapid-cycle feedback to CDEC program managers, agency leadership, and legislators.

The Hub provides strategic consultation support beyond stimulus evaluation work, including:

  • evidence-based decision-making support for continuation of select strategies after stimulus funding ends,
  • development of agency-wide theories of change,
  • analysis of costs for providers to get licensed and advance quality levels,
  • development of a theory of change and evaluation approach for Universal Preschool,
  • workforce data analysis and planning, and
  • stimulus communications support.

The Hub shares interim findings throughout the two-year project, culminating in a final report with themes across all evaluation activities and standalone chapters with evaluation results for each stimulus strategy when stimulus funding ends in September 2024.

Early Childhood Stimulus Evaluation Hub Projects

Summary of Evidence

Colorado is effectively distributing stimulus funds across the state, though the compressed state funding timeline and dispersed nature of funding, in an already-complex early childhood landscape, made it challenging for providers to achieve objectives.

The Hub worked with evaluation teams to publish evidence-building briefs with early insights in fall 2023. Interim findings memos for each evaluation were prepared for CDEC stimulus program managers in early spring 2024. Findings are aligned with CDEC’s three mission-driven strategic goals (access and quality, workforce, and family strengthening) and compiled into a Synthesis of Evidence to Date. Final results will be available in fall 2024.


Stimulus evaluation activities leverage all three evidence-based decision-making domains to:

  • enhance the best available research evidence,
  • describe the implementation context and community needs, and reflect decision-maker expertise.

Evaluation findings and products from the additional strategic projects within the Hub can be used by:

  • CDEC stimulus program leads and funding recipients on course corrections and continuous improvements as they implement stimulus-funded activities.
  • Legislators and policymakers on funding and policy decisions to continue or advance critical strategies post-stimulus funding.

Get Involved

For more information about working with the Colorado Lab, see Government and Community Partnerships or Research Partnerships.