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Here’s who will help Colorado’s early childhood chief make rules

Puzzle pieces and legos are scattered on a colorful carpet.

More than 100 people applied for 15 seats on Colorado’s new Rules Advisory Council, which will advise the state’s early childhood chief on a variety of decisions.

Carl Glenn Payne II for Chalkbeat

Inside Colorado's free preschool initiative

Child care providers, school district staff, and a pediatrician are among 15 people appointed to a new group that will advise Colorado’s early childhood chief on rules ranging from preschool funding rates to preschool teacher credentials.

Lisa Roy, executive director of the state’s new Department of Early Childhood, will have the final say over new rules, but state law requires her to consult with the newly formed Rules Advisory Council before making decisions. The group could play a pivotal role in shaping early childhood policy in Colorado for years to come. 

Roy selected the council’s members based on criteria spelled out in the law. Parameters require some members to be parents of young children and that child care providers, county governments, higher education, and health care be represented.

The rule-setting process is important because rules spell out how state laws are put into action. The early childhood department will be responsible for rolling out a host of new rules over the next year as the state prepares to launch free preschool for 4-year-olds statewide in the fall of 2023.

Roy announced the council’s members this week. One-third of the inaugural group will serve two-year terms, one-third will serve three-year terms, and one-third will serve four-year terms. More than 100 people applied for the 15 seats. 

While some critics have argued that giving the executive director rule-making authority puts too much power in one person’s hands, leaders who planned the new department said it would allow for nimble and efficient decision-making. About half of state agencies leave rule-making authority to the department’s executive director. Others, including the Colorado Department of Education, have a board that makes rules.

Here are the council’s members, with their county of residence in parentheses.

  • Colleen Head Batchelor (El Paso County), CEO of The Resource Exchange
  • Amber Bilby (Jefferson County), owner of Amber’s Kids family child care 
  • Scott Bright (Weld County), owner of ABC Child Development Centers
  • Amy Buford (Larimer County), early childhood special educator, Poudre School District
  • Megan Burch (Eagle County), director, Eagle County Human Services
  • Nazia Hasan (Arapahoe County), advocacy and policy program officer, Community First Foundation
  • Priscilla M. Hopkins (Broomfield County), executive director of early education, Denver Public Schools
  • Cassandra P. Johnson (Arapahoe County), president and CEO, Hope Center, Inc.
  • Rusha Lev (Jefferson County), pediatrician, Denver Health
  • Maegan Lokteff (Grand County), executive director, Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance
  • Heather O’Hayre (Larimer County), director, Larimer County Human Services
  • Chance Padilla (Alamosa County), adolescent and family interventionist, Rocky Mountain Counseling Group
  • Frank Reeves (Grand County), operations manager, Colorado Rural Schools Alliance, and former school district superintendent
  • Karina Sofia Garcia Sastre (Arapahoe County), parent and former family, friend, and neighbor child care provider 
  • T. Vail Shoultz-McCole (Mesa County), faculty member, Colorado Mesa University/Western Colorado Community College

Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat, covering early childhood issues and early literacy. Contact Ann at aschimke@chalkbeat.org.

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