The Colorado Model


Addressing the child care crisis necessitates a comprehensive approach, involving the active participation of all community sectors to develop holistic solutions for families. Our experience in Colorado highlights the vital role of the business community and employers in driving change and offering solutions for their communities. EPIC remains committed to investing in programs, policies, and strategies in Colorado, guided by four key strategic priorities: Awareness & Thought Leadership, Community Innovation & Investment, Workplace Support, and Policy & Advocacy.

Awareness & Thought Leadership

Increasing the business community’s awareness of the importance of early education, and engaging employers in solutions that benefit families, businesses, and the economy.

  • Serving as the preeminent thought leader and expert in engaging employers to identify and implement child care benefits including on-site child care solutions.
  • Developing opportunities and public-private partnerships that address high-quality child care supply building and sustainable business models.
  • Collaborating with business leaders and community organizations through events and communications to promote education and action.
  • Promoting the integration of child care benefits and development infrastructure initiatives into corporate strategic objectives and plans.

Community Innovation & Investment

Engaging employers and community partners in solutions that meet the infrastructure, capital, and workforce needs for sustainability and the provision of child care services.

  • Incubating impactful programs within the community to gain insights and data to inform regulatory alignment opportunities.
  • Offering technical assistance to new and expanding child care projects, supporting the generation of ideas, prototyping solutions, offering subject matter expertise, and collaborating across industries.
  • Building bridges between industries such as philanthropic partners, child care programs, real estate entities, financing organizations, legislatures, and regulatory agencies to drive change at a broader scale.

Workplace Support

 Helping employers attract and retain the best workforce while supporting environments that enable families and children to thrive.

  • Supporting employers as an experienced and neutral expert in improving access to quality, affordable on-site or near-site child care, through tailored consulting, advising, and technical assistance.
  • Providing resources and expertise that lead to the implementation of family-friendly benefits that work for both employers and employees.
  • Expanding grant-funded workplace support programs, allowing a broader reach of employer-focused services resulting in child care supply building efforts across the nation, starting with recipients of the CHIPS for America grants.

Policy & Advocacy

Shaping and advancing policies that support an environment for child care innovation, community-minded approaches, and bipartisan solutions for a more sustainable early childhood sector.

  • Engaging business leaders for testimony, op-eds, and legislative advocacy.
  • Leveraging the business community’s unique perspective and resources to inform policy development, regulations, public funding solutions, and childcare supply-building models.


Launched in 2021, the Building Up initiative focuses on opportunities to increase child care supply and infrastructure in Colorado through targeted efforts in real estate, financing, and regulatory reform.

Through Building Up, EPIC leverages its specialized experience and power of convening to enhance child care capacity, access, and affordability. Child care access across Colorado continues to lag behind the needs of communities, with only enough licensed capacity for two-thirds of children under age 6. It is especially dire for the 27% of families with children under one reporting unmet child care needs.

Strengthening community child care infrastructure to ensure strong, sustainable businesses can offer safe and high-quality care solutions directly benefits labor force participation and other community well-being factors.

More Children

16% increase from 2019 > 2022 in the number of children under age 5 in CO

Rising Costs

Colorado now ranks 5th highest cost of child care in the country (up from 8th in 2021)


Women of color face tremendous barriers accessing financing and bias throughout the process to launch their child care business

Cost Per Child

It takes more staff, resources, supplies, and space for infants, ages 6 weeks–18 months.

Strengthening community infrastructure related to child care relies on highly specialized expertise. For those who seek to develop child care businesses, it can be difficult to know what expertise may be needed or how to navigate systems and connect to the right resources.

Through Building Up, EPIC leverages expertise and collaboration across sectors and industries to increase access to high-quality and affordable child care statewide through three strategic pillars.

Interested in learning more about Building Up and joining as a subject matter expert?

Decrease Expenses

Affordable & Secure Real Estate

Increase Revenue

Capital Financing & Fund Development

Clear the Path

Regulatory Alignment & Innovation


While roads and bridges may be the first thing to come to mind as infrastructure, child care capacity is just as critical for communities to thrive. Through Building Up, EPIC continues to develop key solutions to strengthen child care infrastructure for the benefit of children, families, employers, and the economic vitality and prosperity of our communities.

Ultimately, Building Up seeks to provide direct community support to enhance child care capacity and share best practices to expand impact. As Building Up enters its fourth year and looks toward the future, proven strategies will continue to support enhanced high-quality and affordable child capacity statewide.

Real Estate:

Child care depends on space that is safe and accessible to families within the community. As real estate values and property taxes soar across Colorado, identifying spaces where child care businesses can establish and sustain their business becomes a greater challenge.

Through Building Up, EPIC works with real estate professionals and community partners to creatively identify underutilized spaces, develop new space to increase community child care capacity and match available inventory with child care operators. Additional child care capacity is critical for families and good for business.

Regulatory Barriers:

The strength of EPIC’s advocacy program is well established and supports efforts at the local and state level to remove regulatory barriers as part of Building Up. Zoning, licensing, building codes, and other legal requirements often present undue barriers that are not necessary for the safety and security of child care. Regulatory alignment and practical refinements are crafted through meaningful cross-sector collaboration grounded in expertise and experience, which are then implemented through advocacy and partnership with both legislative and non-legislative policymakers.


Child care has a tenuous business model – with tension to maintain affordable rates for families while generating the revenue necessary to provide living wages for teachers and meet other expenses including rent. In addition, child care operators and entrepreneurs face unique and significant barriers to accessing sufficient capital for emergence or expansion, often not meeting underwriting requirements of traditional lenders, lacking internal capacity to pursue ongoing grants and donations, and struggling to maintain awareness of applicable resources they can access for financial support.

EPIC partners from the philanthropic, public, and private sectors collaborate through Building Up to develop creative, scalable funding solutions to support every stage of development and implementation: from start-up capital to ongoing finance support, cross-sector collaboration provides information, support, and advocacy to overcome finance-related barriers.


Projects of Promise
Through connections with community partners, EPIC regularly identifies locations and partnerships that hold promising opportunities for innovation and the creation of child care facilities. EPIC serves as a connector and convener in bringing together partners to make these projects a reality and provides direct assistance to navigate real estate, financing, and regulation during planning, feasibility, and implementation stages of child care projects.

Employer Based Child Care Design Lab
EPIC’s Design Lab is a highly successful model for providing direct support to employers who seek to create new child care facilities to serve their employees, and in many cases, the wider community. The Design Lab model guides employers and employer partnerships through providing concept to completion education on planning for and operationalizing a high quality on or near site child care center including identifying real estate, financial modeling, tailored technical support, and community connections. Participants enter with little to no working knowledge of child care and report significant growth in their ability to understand the opportunities, decisions before them, and comfort to implement next steps as a result of their participation.

Community Emergency Response
COVID-19 shined a spotlight on the fragility of the early care and education sector. With the risk of the pandemic decimating entire industries, we consulted and helped coordinate, and navigate for COVID response entities such as the Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative and the Keep the Lights On Fund. The EPIC team helped alleviate supply chain issues for child care business owners by convening partners at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Mile High United Way and other organizations to fund and coordinate the purchase and distribution of over $170,000 in cleaning and sanitation supplies.

To meet this critical need, a public-private partnership effort was established with the goal of providing 1) cleaning supplies and 2) direct financial assistance to licensed family child care homes, centers, and school-age programs statewide, and thus “keep the lights on”. It takes all of us – nonprofits, philanthropy, government, and business leaders – to help stabilize these vital small businesses and reduce further closures. To get involved or learn more please visit Mile High United Way.


EPIC has championed and contributed to the passage of successful legislation in Colorado that has led to the Child Care Contribution Tax Credit (CCTC), Funding for Full-day Kindergarten, Universal Preschool to name a few and continues to drive policy reform in three priority areas.

Priority #1: Advocate for policies that support children’s development and the needs of working families

Child care enables families to work, and families need access to a variety of affordable, high-quality early childhood supports and choices for their children. Colorado must strive for funding and program administration that is an aligned, user-friendly, transparent, and effective system of resources centered on serving the needs of families and young children while ensuring that children have high-quality care and early education experiences.

EPIC supports:

  • A mixed delivery system of early childhood care and education services
  • Universal Preschool (UPK) implementation and program design that ensures accessibility for families and viability for providers
  • Early childhood programs and funding that meet the diverse needs of children and working families
  • Expanding equitable access to services that meet the needs of the whole child and their families

Priority #2: Advocate for investments in child care infrastructure to support and grow the economy

Child care is a critical service for economic development and growth in Colorado, and the state must invest in the physical infrastructure necessary to support child care services. Communities and employers should be incentivized and supported to innovatively design, create, and sustain early child care and education services.

EPIC supports:

  • Incentivizing employers, developers, land/building owners, government, and other community partners to invest in child care infrastructure and programs 
  • Implementing real estate solutions and financial resources to support the creation, retention, and expansion of child care facilities
  • Addressing regulatory barriers to the creation of new child care capacity and businesses
  • Incentivizing the co-location of child care with other development through technical assistance, financial resources, and regulatory alignment

Priority #3: Advocate for policies that recognize and stabilize early childhood small businesses

It is critical to elevate the voices of those providing critical early childhood services and ensure systems are designed to support and stabilize the early childhood sector through the development, design, and ongoing implementation of early childhood funds and programs. The business of early childhood is incredibly challenging in many ways, and in order to ensure a sufficient supply of early childhood services, policies that value and create financial stability for these small businesses must be prioritized.

EPIC supports:

  • Creating business supports, technical assistance resources, and incentives to ensure early childhood business owners can enter and remain in the sector
  • Encouraging design and investment in innovative career pathways and workforce development
  • Advancing opportunities for early childhood business owners to participate in and inform policy  
  • Addressing regulatory and legal barriers to entry for the child care industry
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