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Colorado’s Early Childhood Workforce

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Project Summary

The Colorado Lab has an ongoing partnership with the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) to improve the state’s data capacity related to the early childhood workforce. Colorado has historically had insufficient capacity to make sense of the data they collect on the early childhood workforce, and these data have been siloed across multiple organizations. The Colorado Lab and CDEC launched this work by leveraging the Linked Information Network of Colorado (LINC) to create a longitudinal data set  to perform descriptive analyses of the early childhood workforce using CDEC data. This work resulted in a foundational snapshot report of the early childhood workforce and a public data dashboard supported by Mile High Data Viz. This work also supported enhancements to the CDEC’s internal data systems to improve their ability to collect and analyze early childhood workforce data.

The current phase of this work has launched a new LINC project with data from CDEC, higher education, labor and employment, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). The Early Childhood Stimulus Evaluation Hub is presently supporting this work with analysis conducted by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, and the remaining deliverables will be available on the Hub’s webpage.

Summary of Findings

This study found there were over 23,000 early care and education (ECE) professionals in Colorado in 2019. Teachers serving kids ages 3-5 years outnumbered infant and toddler teachers 2-to-1 in 2019, while the desired split should be nearly equal. Hispanic ECE professionals were less commonly filling lead teacher or director roles in the field compared to White professionals. Rural and frontier counties had the largest early childhood professional growth compared to urban counties during 2019. Also, one in four professionals changed jobs at some point during 2019, indicating a great deal of turnover in the early childhood workforce.


Results from the snapshot report were used by the CDEC to request funds to expand its commitment to an early childhood workforce serving infants and toddlers to meet the demands of children and families. The results also pointed to a need for effective strategies for early childhood professional recruitment, retention, and professional development, and these findings helped guide the CDEC’s stimulus-funded workforce strategies. Lastly, this work informed the CDEC’s investments in improving their data systems and smart use of these data to be responsive to changing conditions of the early childhood workforce.

Get Involved

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