News Article

Featured in this newsletter:

  • Breaking New Ground: Clifton Community Campus – A new approach to bringing services to young children and their families
Kids dig in for the Clifton Community Center groundbreaking ceremony.

There was ample reason to celebrate during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Clifton Community Campus. Turning years of planning into reality, the innovative campus advances the goal of significantly increasing early childhood education and care options for families in the region.

Located in Clifton, an unincorporated Mesa County community of 20,000 residents that is a designated childcare desert, the campus will provide on-site licensed, child care for 174 infants and young children and an early childhood education workforce training center. Marillac Clinic will provide health care on the campus in the coming years. Plans also include incorporating a library and community hall and an outdoor space for community to gather and enjoy a new walking path along the river.

Based on Mesa County’s Child Care 8,000 (CC8K) initiative, the plan was shovel-ready when American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding became available. With Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) serving as the backbone organization, diverse partners collected extensive community input and collaborated in creating CC8K. The goal of the initiative is to double the number of licensed child care spots available – to 8,000 slots – and support working families across the region. Caring for Colorado joined together with the state, county and other funders, providing a grant to leverage APRA funds and bring the plan to life.

Central to making the CC8K successful is engaging parents. “A child will not be successful if their parents are not supported,” says MCPH Executive Director Jeff Kuhr. “The Clifton Community Campus is based on a 2-Gen approach to support parents, as well as children, and to strengthen the overall community.”

A key element of the new center is a training facility to grow a strong early childhood workforce for the center and across the region. “We know that a trained workforce plays an essential role in both a young person’s healthy beginning and in developing strong and resilient families,” Kuhr said. Working in partnership with Colorado Mesa University, plans include developing curricula, providing scholarships, and identifying funding resources to supplement wages for early childhood education providers to ensure they earn a living wage. “I really hope this ends up being a model that shows us how we can find efficiencies, pay a better wage, and complete that rung of the workforce ladder.”

Kuhr believes that the impacts of the Clifton Community Campus – which is set to open early 2024 – will extend beyond Clifton and serve as an example to other Colorado communities with similar needs.

Caring for Colorado is working to build systems of care for young children and families. This includes relationship-rich early childhood settings that prioritize children’s social and emotional health. Quality child care with wraparound services, as provided in this innovative campus, is a great example of this systems approach. To learn more about Caring for Colorado’s Strong and Resilient Families strategic grantmaking focus area, please contact Sam Espinoza.