June 8, 2020
Colorado Department of Human Services, Mile High United Way, Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance, Executives Partnering to Invest in Children, Healthy Child Care Colorado, and other partners to purchase bulk orders of necessary supplies to be distributed statewide.
Denver (May 5, 2020) – Mile High United Way (MHUW), in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA), Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC), Gary Community Investments, Healthy Child Care Colorado and The Women’s Foundation of Colorado has created the Keep the Lights on Fund to ensure the survival of child care providers across Colorado.
When ongoing work through Colorado’s emergency child care collaborative revealed child care businesses’ critical need for cleaning supplies, EPIC and MHUW brought community partners together to seek solutions. With a grant from CDHS and additional dollars from The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Gary Community Investments, the fund will initially support a large-scale (more than $160,000) purchase of cleaning and sanitizing supplies to be distributed to over 1,200 child care providers across the state in the coming weeks. Denver Mattress has also contributed to this effort by providing CDHS with 33,000 masks at cost and offering free delivery to distribution sites. MHUW aims to increase the fund to $500,000 through additional private donations in the coming months to provide small grants to child care providers for fixed costs such as personnel and rent.
“Child care is an essential service that so many in our community rely on, including those currently working on the frontlines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Christine Benero, President and CEO of Mile High United Way. “These funds are critical to ensure child care providers can meet health and safety standards during these unprecedented times so our children may continue to be cared for.”
The COVID-19 crisis and the preparation for recovery has shined a spotlight on the fragility of this already struggling sector. According to a survey of need taken by National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), 33% of Colorado’s child care providers say they would not survive closing for more than two weeks without significant public investment and support that would allow them to compensate and retain staff, pay rent and cover other fixed costs. 29% have lost income because they are paid by attendance rather than enrollment and 54% have lost income based on families’ own inability to pay.
“As COVID-19 requires additional demands of our essential workforce to support our health care system, public safety professionals and other members of our emergency workforce, child care is a vital piece of Colorado’s response,” said CDHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes. “Contributing to this fund is part of our commitment to ensure child care providers have what they need to operate safely.”
The initial bulk purchase of items was m ade in late April, with distribution beginning in early May. All 34 Early Childhood Councils across the state will support a coordinated process to distribute the supplies. Licensed child care programs in need of supplies should contact their Early Childhood Council for information. A complete list of Colorado’s Early Childhood Councils can be found at www.ecclacolorado.org/find-an-early-childhood-council/. Logistical coordination will be managed by MHUW and ECCLA with a focus on the health and safety of not just the child care providers, but also the delivery team bringing the critical supplies to communities around the state.
“The funding and coordinated distribution effort are critical at a time when cleaning supplies are difficult to purchase on an individual provider basis,” said Amy Payton, Executive Director of ECCLA. “Our members are grateful for the support and cooperation of CDHS and MHUW, as well as the financial backing from other generous funders – without this unprecedented coordination, small and mid-size providers would not be able to access supplies of this nature at an affordable rate.”
For more information about the Keep the Lights on Fund and other Mile High United Way community programming in response to COVID-19, visit www.unitedwaydenver.org.
About Mile High United Way
Working side-by-side with the community, Mile High United Way takes on critical human services issues facing our seven-county footprint including the Metro Denver, Boulder and Broomfield communities. Our united approach changes the odds for all children, families, and individuals in our community, so that we all have the opportunity to succeed. Learn more at unitedwaydenver.org and follow us on social
About Colorado Department of Human Services
The Colorado Department of Human Services connects people with assistance, resources and support for living independently in our state. We’re the people who help people. Learn more at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs or follow us on social @CoCDHS.
About Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance
Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA) is a collective impact leader with strong relationships among all of Colorado’s 34 Early Childhood Councils who serve 63 of 64 counties. We are a collective voice and statewide hub which leverages the expertise and network of Early Childhood Councils to advance shared outcomes for young children, families, and the early childhood workforce. As the membership association for Early Childhood Councils, ECCLA provides technical assistance and capacity building, leverages policy and advocacy, scales innovation, improves workforces supports for early childhood professionals, advances collective impact, and facilitates partnerships. Learn more at
www.ecclacoloraodo.org and connect with us on social media @ECCLAColorado.
About The Women’s Foundation of Colorado
The Women’s Foundation of Colorado is the only statewide community foundation dedicated to creating more pathways to prosperity for Colorado women. Since 1987, WFCO has funded dozens of research reports that identify the systemic barriers that keep women from reaching economic security, helped pass key legislation that spurs women’s economic advancement, and granted more than $19 million to nonprofits that work with women and families in communities statewide. For more information, please visit www.wfco.org.
About Executives Partnering to Invest in Children
Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC) is the business community’s early childhood voice, working to develop and support public policy solutions that meet the needs of Colorado families and employers. In addition to advocating for policies that increase the supply and affordability of quality child care, EPIC works with the business community to devise and implement solutions that help businesses recruit and retain employees, parents continue their education and career advancement, and young children succeed in school. For more information, please visit www.coloradoepic.org.
Gary Community Investments
Gary Community Investments, which includes The Piton Foundation, invests in for-profit and philanthropic solutions for Colorado’s low-income children and their families. It was founded by Denver oilman Sam Gary with the belief that business and philanthropy can—and should—work together to create opportunities for those who need it most. Gary Community Investments is committed to investing in quality early childhood and youth development systems, expanding sustainable economic opportunities, and developing and supporting programs that create healthy family and community environments. By aligning all of our assets with our mission, we make creative investments that not only yield a financial return, but can also improve the lives of Colorado’s children. www.garycommunity.org.
About Healthy Child Care Colorado
Healthy Child Care Colorado builds safe, supportive, and healthy early childhood settings and systems where children and professionals learn and grow. We promote and support best practices and policies by providing professional development, technical assistance, grantmaking, and advocacy. We collaborate with national, state, and local partners to meet the needs of the people and places serving our youngest children. We primarily focus our work on these health priority areas: social and emotional well-being, obesity prevention, oral health, and injury prevention. To learn more about our work, please visit www.healthychildcareco.org.