News Bites – Winter, 2020


Happy Holidays!

As we enter the holiday season, we wanted to take a moment to express how grateful we are for your ongoing support. Whether you have been deeply involved in our work over the last year or have shown your support simply through a shared belief in the importance of preschool, we appreciate you. You, along with all our partners, make it possible for us to continue helping the Denver community through the uncertainty of the pandemic. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the Denver Preschool Program has been working to create stability for families and preschools. Through a combination of the below efforts, we have helped preschools keep their doors open to allow for families to have safe and reliable child care, allowing them to continue to work. While we know there is still much to do for our preschools, children and families, the Denver Preschool Program is proud to provide support, above and beyond our typical work, in the following ways:

  • Distributed $100,000 in emergency grants to Denver Preschool Program preschools
  • Became the fiscal agent for the State of Colorado’s Emergency Child Care Collaborative, distributing approximately $11 million to preschools serving essential workers
  • Waived attendance requirements March through August and again in December, allowing preschools to continue to receive funding regardless of whether their Denver Preschool Program students were able to attend school
  • Launched a pilot to support family child care homes in paying for their general
    liability insurance
  • Partnered with Denver Public Schools to launch a Distance Learning Taskforce to seek opportunities to support schools and families with learning outside of the preschool classroom
  • Launched a distance learning pilot to support schools as they build the infrastructure to provide online learning and virtual supports to families
  • Created a $250,000 DPP Sustainability Fund to support providers during the
    COVID-19 pandemic

Through the programs and policies we’ve put in place, we can help ensure that one thing remains constant – the ability of the families we serve to provide their children with the benefits associated with high-quality early childhood education. Thank you again for your support of the Denver Preschool Program, we hope your holidays are merry and bright!
 
 
The Denver Preschool Program launches a new online application

 In an effort to make applying for tuition support as simple as possible for Denver families, DPP has launched an online tuition support application. Parents and caregivers can complete the application using a smart phone, desktop or other mobile device, making it easier than ever for people to apply when and where it is convenient for them. Available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali and Arabic, the application is completely secure, and people can start the application, pause and come back to pick up where they left off as many times as needed.
 
The application process does still require people to provide certain documents (verification of a child’s birthday, proof of address and verification of one month’s income), but with the online application, families now have the option of uploading these documents, in addition to still being able to email, fax, mail or drop them off in-person.
 
For families who are more comfortable with completing hard-copy applications, we will continue to offer a printable PDF version on our website. And, as always, phone, email and in-person support are available if people have questions or need help completing the application (online or otherwise).

Offering this new, more convenient way to apply for tuition support is another way DPP is striving to make high-quality preschool accessible and affordable for all of Denver’s youngest learners.
Suggested image – screenshot of application 
 
 
The Denver Preschool Program now covers up to 100% of tuition costs for families
 
The Denver Preschool Program announced a new initiative that will serve a greater number of children in a more substantial way by covering the full cost of preschool for eligible families that earn 300% or less of the federal poverty level. This initiative is in addition to the existing universal tuition support that we have provided to families since 2007. 
 
According to Elsa Holguín, Denver Preschool Program’s President and CEO, the launch of this initiative comes at an opportune time as families continue to struggle with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our goal has always been to provide Denver families with access to affordable, quality preschool options,” says Holguín.  She adds, “The opportunity to cover up to 100% of tuition costs for families removes the financial barrier some families face when they enroll their 4-year-olds in a quality-rated preschool.”
 
In order to receive free preschool, a family of four must make $47,638 per year or less, enroll their 4-year-old full time in a participating preschool and not receive any other financial assistance for early childhood education. Not only did the additional funding give families greater choices, it also enhanced their overall economic position.
 
 “DPP, thank you! Thank you! You have helped me incredibly during a transitional year for our family. Our child is receiving an outstanding preschool education we would not have otherwise afforded. Without this program, we would have likely pulled her out of [preschool] and her education would have been compromised.” – Parent of a DPP Scholarship Participant
 
We know the critical role early childhood education plays in a child’s development, helping to lay the foundation for a lifetime of success. We are therefore committed to standing with our families and making sure all Denver children have access to high-quality early education opportunities regardless of the unprecedented economic times.
 
 
The Denver Preschool Program model works to improve child outcomes in kindergarten  

An exciting new study delivered evidence that providing tuition credits to families to increase their access to high-quality preschool is an effective way to support children’s kindergarten readiness and success. The year-over-year study of over 70,000 kindergarten students in Denver showed that students who received a DPP tuition credit were more likely to read at grade level in kindergarten as compared to students who did not receive a tuition credit.  DPP students were also less likely to be chronically absent or retained in kindergarten. Reading at grade level, being present at school, and advancing grades on time are all early indicators of long-term academic success. 

Please view the full study hereand share with your colleagues as you see fit.

 
Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Training

As we said in our Racial Injustice and Equity Statement, we owe it to the children who are impacted by racism and oppression to commit ourselves to the movement for permanent change. We committed to listen and to step up, to hold ourselves accountable to the Black, Brown and Indigenous families, and we are staying true to that statement by starting to make those changes now. With the help of two experts, we have begun the work to examine our approaches to develop a sharper focus on racial equity. We know that change doesn’t happen overnight, but we are looking forward to sharing with you the ways in which we will be recommitting to evaluate our policies and approaches over the next year. Our most important work lies ahead, and we will keep you apprised of our process as we take this journey towards achieving our mission that every child in Denver enter kindergarten ready to reach their full potential. 


The Denver Preschool Program welcomes two new board members

We are pleased to announce the addition of two new board members, Dr. Lydia Prado, Executive Director of Lifespan Local, and Anne Rowe, Co-Owner and Principal of La Vie and Company.

Before starting Lifespan Local, Dr. Prado spent 17 years with the Mental Health Center of Denver as the Vice President of Child & Family Services. She is the project visionary behind the Mental Health Center of Denver’s Dahlia Campus for Health & Well Being, an innovative community center in Northeast Park Hill that promotes well-being across the lifespan. We are thrilled to have Dr. Lydia Prado join the DPP board.  Her expertise in early childhood mental health will enhance our ability to serve our community.  She is a visionary leader that knows how to partner with the community, lifting their voices and dreams to develop extraordinary spaces like the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-being and in planning stages for a center in southwest Denver.

Anne Rowe served on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education from 2011 to 2019 and was the President of the board from 2015-2019. She currently serves on the board of the DPS Foundation and has been a board member of the Public Education Business Coalition, A+Denver, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, the Children’s Museum of Denver, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Girls Incorporated. Her business career started in 1986 as an associate with the Wallach Company and since then, Anne has helped launch and lead two small businesses, RP Publishing in 1992, and La Vie & Company in 2001, a firm she currently co-owns and serves as one of its principals. Anne Rowe is a champion for children, and her years of volunteer service are remarkable. Her community leadership includes serving on critical committees and boards, as well as in elected office as Denver Public Schools board member. We are fortunate to have her join the DPP board, bringing years of both community and business experience.

Please help us to welcome to both Dr. Prado and Anne! We would also like to announce our new slate of offices, effective as of January 1, 2021. They include:
 
Michael Baker, President
Dr. Lydia Prado, Vice Chair
Chris Daues, Treasurer
Amber Münck, Secretary
 
 A big thank you for Zach Hochstadt, who will be handing over the reigns after having been our Board Chair for the past two years. Zach was an incredible asset for DPP during his time as Chair. Not only did has he provided unwavering support and guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic, he also helped lead the organization through Elsa’s transition to President & CEO, as well as through our first City Audit. He has been an invaluable strategic partner over the last few years and we will very much miss his leadership, enlightening perspectives and incredible sense of humor. Thank you, Zach!


COVID-19 testing
 
As you know, COVID-19 cases are rising in Colorado. The rise in transmission in the community can cause stress and uncertainty about potential closures, however, COVIDCheck Colorado (CCC) has helped hundreds of thousands of employees and students get back to work and school by providing regular, accessible, and free COVID-19 testing.  
 
CCC has been able to significantly expand their COVID-19 testing services to help make testing available for more Coloradans. As part of this expansion, they are partnering with DPP to offer COVID-19 testing to any of our families and/or providers who visit a CCC test site – free of charge. This registration link includes the list of locations that provide free testing (no insurance information required) to anyone who is interested. You, your families and your staff can sign up for a free test as often as you’d like so please feel free to share the registration link with them. 
 
If you have any questions about this free testing program, please reach out to Courtney Steele of COVIDCheck Colorado at csteele@covidcheckcolorado.org or at (303) 476-0176.
 
 
DPP in the news
 
Preschool Program opening doors for Denver families
 
Denver Preschool Program launches scholarship
 
Denver’s taxpayer-funded preschool program offers working families more tuition help

COVID in Denver: Tuition Support Continues for Preschoolers
 
Colorado Public Radio’s conversations with Elsa Holguín can be found herehere and here 

 
A moment of remembrance

 Lastly, we’d like to take a moment to reflect upon the passing of Sam Gary on November 16 at the age of 94. Sam was a beloved philanthropist and advocate for early childhood education who spearheaded the initiative that established the Denver Preschool Program. Thank you does not even begin to express our gratitude for the passionate investments Sam made in the ECE community, we will be forever grateful.
 
You can learn more about the incredible life and legacy of Sam Gary here, on Gary Community Investments’ website.