ECCLA improves the quality, capacity, and equity of services and supports for Colorado's young children and their families through a statewide network of Early Childhood Councils and key stakeholders. We meet this mission through local and statewide collaboration and leadership, program and policy alignment, and scaling innovation.
ECCLA works to ensure that every child in Colorado has a strong start in life. We believe that strong families and communities, access to comprehensive physical and mental health care, and high quality early care and learning opportunities help ensure every child can reach his or her full potential. ECCLA is the membership association for Colorado's network of 34 community-based Early Childhood Councils which reaches 63 of 64 counties.
Over the years, Colorado has increasingly committed resources in order to link together early learning, health, mental health, family support, and parent education so that families and young children have access to an equitable, high quality continuum of services and supports. Integral to this effort was the establishment in 1998 of pilot organizations to coordinate local early childhood services. By 2007, these pilots had successfully built the foundation for the establishment of Colorado's network of Early Childhood Councils by the Colorado General Assembly. This statewide network of locally organized Councils is responsible for improving and sustaining the quality, availability, capacity, and accessibility of early childhood services for children and families in local communities.
This work is critical because the earliest years of a child's life are uniquely important--this is the most sensitive period for brain development. The experiences a child has during this time will shape the architecture of the brain and build connections that contribute to lifelong skills like problem solving, communication, self control, and relationship building. These skills provide a strong foundation and support children to thrive within their family, community, and culture. Safe environments, protective and loving relationships, and access to care all foster healthy development. Early investment in the health and well-being of Colorado's youngest children leads to healthy thriving adults who contribute to a thriving Colorado.
Our state is both fortunate and unique to have local Early Childhood Councils that focus on increasing the quality of early care and learning programs and environments; expanding family resources and skills; and ensuring access to social, physical, and mental health services for young children. Councils increase the effectiveness of early childhood professionals with training, coaching, and resources, which, in turn, helps children be prepared for kindergarten. Significantly, Councils are committed to closing the achievement gap for children who face multiple barriers, including those living in low-income families, by increasing the number and percentage of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers enrolled in high quality early care and learning programs.
This focus is accomplished through the following systems building functions:
• Grant and Fiscal Management: Stewarding funds to improve local early childhood services and supports and dispersing them to qualified providers and partners for effective service delivery implementation.
• Partnerships and Engagement: Convening community partners to share information and resources, identify issues, and problem solve, while advancing robust public engagement to elevate early childhood issues.
• Capacity Building and Sustainability: Providing continuous community-wide assessment, strategic planning, data collection, and monitoring to build and sustain local capacity for improvement of early childhood systems.
• Advocacy and Policy Development: Advocating and educating the community, policymakers, and families on policies that promote the healthy development of young children.
• Professional Development and Leadership: Advancing the knowledge and skills of early childhood providers, educators, and families to support the healthy development of young children.
ECCLA serves our members by hosting all Councils at quarterly statewide meetings and convening monthly webinars. We support and increase organizational capacity, provide technical assistance and training, increase effective and coordinated communication, and measure and report data on shared indicators to evaluate and enhance collective impact. ECCLA works closely with Councils to advocate for state and local policies that support young children and their families, and we provide opportunities for shared learning among Councils to identify and scale local innovations in the field of early childhood.
Each year, ECCLA hosts meetings at least quarterly for our member Councils which are focused on shared learning opportunities, technical assistance, training, and support for the network. In addition, we host partners and consultants with subject matter expertise who present on a variety of relevant and timely topics, like building effective thought leadership, social media, equity, policy updates and related advocacy activities, and a wide variety of tools and programs for supporting both providers and parents of young children and their families. Councils frequently share and/or implement these trainings and resources with their local leadership, partners, and stakeholders, widening the impact of our collective work and expanding innovation and best practice throughout the state.
Early Childhood Councils positively impact all of Colorado's young children and their families. Visit our website (www.ecclacolorado.org) to find your local Early Childhood Council, read about their impact, and learn more about the role they play in our local communities.