The City and County of Denver will spend $500,000 on providing early childhood educator classes to people in communities serving migrants, refugees, people of color and children with special needs.
The City Council approved the expenditure Monday. The money will pay for three classes provided by Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition. Two will occur in 2023 and a third will in 2024. Each class will have 20 openings.
The expenditure is coming from American Rescue Plan Act funds. The classes the Coalition teaches are called PASO or Providers Advancing Student Outcomes. It is an 120-hour program. “The PASO training is accomplished through the presentation of 30 separate four-hour seminar classes by the program trainers – referred to in the program as Tias, or ‘aunties’ – over a period of 15 weeks,” according to the PASO website. “This training supports the informal childcare providers who are often the aunts, grandmas, uncles, best friends, and neighbors of the family.”
Culturally aware for better outcomes
The contract calls on the Coalition to create a program specific to children with special needs. “These are the people who we can trust to care for our kids, who speak the language we speak at home and who share our culture,” the PASO website continues. “Many of these providers are people who have never had training in how to not only keep a child safe, but to also educate and help prepare them to enter school at the same level as their white peers.”
According to the PASO website, Latino students represent more than a third of all students in Colorado’s public schools. “High school graduation is a key step in achieving a higher education, higher paying job, and career sustainability. Unfortunately, Latinos have a graduation rate of 74.2% which is lower than the state average and the lowest amongst the measured white, Black, and Latino student demographics. Research shows that students who begin kindergarten already less prepared, have a harder time catching up, if they ever do. In 2006, CSPC created PASO to help close the opportunity gap before it even starts.”