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Spanish-speaking parents can learn about and weigh in on the future of universal preschool in Colorado during a community input session Friday.
Engaged Latino Parents Advancing Student Outcomes, or ELPASO, a local Latino-led nonprofit dedicated to closing the achievement gap through the support and engagement of parents, will host the discussion in partnership with the Early Childhood Council of Boulder County.
In November, Colorado voters passed Proposition EE, which will raise the tax on tobacco products and levy a tax on nicotine vaping products. Taxes collected during the first three fiscal years will go to support statewide COVID-19 recovery efforts, and starting in 2023 the funds will go toward universal preschool, according to Melissa Mares, event facilitator and early childhood policy fellow at the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
“The point of this (session) is to talk to families to say, ‘Here is what the voters approved in November’ and ask ‘How should it look for it to be the most supportive for you?,’” she said.
Universal preschool in Colorado, according to the proposition, means at least 10 hours a week of free and voluntary preschool for all children in the year prior to kindergarten.
“One of the things we have prioritized at the Children’s Campaign is having conversations with people who might be the most impacted by this change. We want to understand how dual-language families might feel most comfortable accessing preschool from the state,” Mares said.
The event on Friday will serve as a forum to present information to Spanish-speaking families in Longmont and across Boulder County, as well as a stage to voice questions and concerns, said Tere Garcia, ELPASO executive director.
“Enrolling your children in preschool is new for many Latino parents,” she said. “Our main goal at ELPASO is to give parents the necessary information so they can make an informed decision.
“It’s important that parents know there are different kinds of preschool, different enrollment periods and requirements, as well as financial support, and they can take advantage of the opportunity to get their children in preschool when they are ready,” she said.
A sizeable body of research points to tangible benefits later in life for children who attend high-quality early education programs. Studies have found investments in preschool programs improve student success by boosting children’s early literacy and math skills.
Other studies have shown preschool program graduates tend to have lower rates of substance abuse, serious crime and incarceration, and depression, as well as greater economic well-being.
Early childhood education can be complex for families, and it is important the opinions of community members are considered when setting up universal preschool, Garcia said.
“One thing is to say what will be done and another is to do it according to a community, to what parents need,” she said. “We want to invite all Spanish-speaking parents to come join this meeting and have their questions answered. (It’s) better to be informed than to lose an opportunity as a result of not being informed.”
The Zoom community session will be facilitated in Spanish from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday. To attend, click here.
For more information about ELPASO and its programs, click here.For more information about Proposition EE, Colorado universal preschool and community input sessions across the state, email Mares at firstname.lastname@example.org.