Just over one month into the 2023 Colorado legislative session, we are seeing bills with significant implications for the communities Mile High United Way serves. That means we are busy advocating for positive change in our community, which is central to our work as an organization. We know that it is only through equitable systems that we can ensure every Coloradan has the opportunity to flourish.
Among the bills introduced, House Bill 23-1091 is a bipartisan effort to extend and expand the Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit (CCTC). For 25 years, the CCTC has been a key driver of child care funding in our state. As demonstrated during widespread closures in response to the pandemic, child care is a bedrock for a thriving and equitable society. Additionally, research shows quality child care supports growth and development, helping children succeed in school and beyond.
“Extending the Colorado Child Care Tax Credit is common sense,” said Roweena Naidoo, Mile High United Way’s vice-president of policy and community initiatives. “All Colorado residents benefit from a strong child care system. The CCTC improves financial stability for child care providers, keeps rates affordable for families, incentivizes philanthropic giving and supports a thriving Colorado economy through a two-generation strategy of ensuring parents can work knowing their children are in a safe learning environment.”
The CCTC currently provides a 50% tax credit up to $100,000 for monetary donations to organizations and programs that promote child care across Colorado. The renewal efforts extend the tax credit through Dec. 31, 2028, while expanding the types of contributions eligible.
Mile High United Way expands access to quality child care by investing in early childhood education programs and providing training and resources to parents and caregivers. With funds raised through the tax credit, we have partnered with more than 40 organizations to help create quality early childhood education slots and connect parents to resources. Our partnerships also provide out-of-school programming for children up to age 12.
The tax credit also supports our own community-driven programming to support child care and development. Our United for Families team works closely with families to create new child care opportunities that meet the needs of the community.
Jennifer Estrada, a member of a United for Families Parent Advisory Council, has seen the impact of quality child care and support for her own daughters. “We’re trying to provide the best future for our girls. If we can help them now when they’re little, hopefully it makes a difference in school and their adulthood,” she said.
Additionally, our 211 Help Center serves as the statewide Colorado Shines Child Care Referral service, providing families with information about child care in their neighborhoods. In 2022, we provided 2,920 child care referrals and resources to families statewide.
Creating long-term stability for former foster youth
During the 2023 legislative session, we also are supporting Senate Bill 23-082, which aims to provide additional housing vouchers and case management support for young people aging out of the child welfare system. About one-third of former foster youth experience homelessness by age 26, with an estimated 20% becoming homeless upon turning age 18. Federal and state voucher programs help these individuals and families find stable housing.
This legislation could help participants in our Bridging the Gap program, which connects young adults to safe and stable housing after they’ve left the child welfare system. Once participants are safely housed, our Bridging the Gap team works closely with them to provide other wraparound supports, including education and career opportunities and wellness supports, to help them build greater independence and economic stability.
Bridging the Gap Director Madeleine Williams also testified in support of SB23-082. “Bridging the Gap works because when our young adults have access to stable housing, they can focus on pursuing academic and professional opportunities, caring for their families, and establishing financial security,” she told the committee. “Housing vouchers are one of the most effective anti-poverty programs we have.”
Mile High United Way’s policy work centers on addressing the systems that create barriers for historically marginalized groups. We use an equity lens to remove barriers and create pathways to success for all Coloradans. Follow the latest updates and learn how you can join us in this important work.