80 episodes

From the Colorado Children’s Campaign, The West Steps dives into the policies and politics that come out of the Colorado State Capitol. This insider guide is for outsiders who wonder how laws affect the lives of Coloradans— especially kids. Join us on The West Steps to learn how you can influence the future of Colorado.

The West Steps Colorado Children's Campaign

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 10 Ratings

From the Colorado Children’s Campaign, The West Steps dives into the policies and politics that come out of the Colorado State Capitol. This insider guide is for outsiders who wonder how laws affect the lives of Coloradans— especially kids. Join us on The West Steps to learn how you can influence the future of Colorado.

    2022 legislative session wrap up

    2022 legislative session wrap up

    The 2022 legislative session of the Colorado General Assembly concluded on May 11 with a number of wins for kids and families. After a mad dash to the finish line, we are proud to share that all of our priority bills passed with bipartisan support! This year's legislative wins were characterized by major systemic shifts across all our issue areas. Among other successes we played a part in, we laid out the guidelines for implementing our new state Department of Early Childhood and Universal Preschool Program, helped expand Medicaid and CHP+ coverage for undocumented kids and pregnant people, updated our state’s TANF program, and secured more equitable, student-centered funding for our schools. This work would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of our partners, coalition members, and advocates from across the state. Thank you for your continued support in making Colorado the best possible state for kids and families.  
    We are joined by Riley Kitts, Government Affairs Director at the Colorado Children’s Campaign, for our final conversation of season four. Riley celebrates the Children’s Campaign’s numerous legislative successes, and shares his own personal highlights and challenges from the past 120 days of session. In the midst of these successes, we continue to recognize the work that still remains in realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We hope you will join us in our efforts to continue advocating for innovative solutions that prioritize child well-being. 
    To read more about the bills we championed and supported in the 2022 legislative session, click here. 
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    • 18 min
    How will we cover all Coloradans in 2022? Part 2

    How will we cover all Coloradans in 2022? Part 2

    House Bill 22-1289: Cover All Coloradans is a monumental bill that will provide comprehensive public health insurance coverage to children, pregnant and postpartum undocumented Coloradans.  However, there is much more to this bill than what meets the eye. Behind this critical piece of legislation have been hours of dedicated engagement from a steering committee consisting of 11 directly impacted community members. Their experiences, stories, and insight have helped shape this bill and provide the perspective essential to ensuring it remains effective and equitable. By uplifting and centering community voice in policy work, we can more holistically embed human-centered legislation in systems that for far too long have intentionally shut out so many communities in our state.  
    Welcome back to season 4 of The West Steps! On today’s episode, we have a full house discussing the Cover All Coloradans bill. We are joined by Erin miller, Vice President for Health Initiatives at the Colorado Children's Campaign; Rayna Hetlage, Senior Policy Manager at Center for Health Progress; Raquel Lane- Arellano, Policy Manager at Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition; and Dr. Lilia Cervantes, Associate Professor at CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Our discussion highlights the progress HB22-1289 has made throughout the legislative session, including the amendments that have been added to make it an even better bill. We also hear about the community-informed process behind this legislation, and how we can work to ensure such processes are more embedded in our policy advocacy work. To learn more about HB22-1289 and its journey through the legislature, click here. 
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    • 25 min
    Now is the time to correct Colorado’s inequitable school funding system

    Now is the time to correct Colorado’s inequitable school funding system

    Welcome back to The West Steps! Today, we return to a highly complex and often misunderstood topic: Colorado’s school funding system, and specifically local “mill levy override” funding. Leslie Colwell, Vice President for Education Initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign; and George Welsh, former superintendent of Cañon City School District, join us to help make sense of this complicated component of our education and tax system. Our guests explain the ways property tax resources school districts, how it creates and widens inequities, and the impact this has on students.  
    Access to a high-quality education should not be determined by zip code, yet in Colorado, that is overwhelmingly the case. Our state's school finance system – the ways we resource schools with revenue and our allocation formula – is complicated to understand and highly inequitable. Supplemental revenue can be raised through local mill levy overrides, which require voter approval to increase the amount of mills residents pay for property tax.  However, not all property is valued at the same rate, allowing some communities to raise more funds than others. Currently, 64 school districts in the state have zero local overrides to support students. Especially with educational inequities widening as a result of the pandemic, it is essential that our policymakers work to correct this longstanding barrier to student success. 
    This year, SB22-202 hopes to begin addressing these problems by establishing a state-funded Mill Levy Override Match Fund. This fund intends to level the playing field for schools in low-wealth communities who otherwise constantly struggle for adequate resources to meet student’s needs. While this bill will not solve Colorado’s school finance woes, it is one step toward improving school funding so that a student's access to educational opportunity is not limited by their zip code.  To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here. 
    Support the show (https://www.coloradokids.org/)

    • 27 min
    What is rulemaking and how does it impact kids and families in Colorado?

    What is rulemaking and how does it impact kids and families in Colorado?

    While many may view the governor signing a bill into law as the final step in the legislative process, this is not the case. In fact, a recently signed bill is barely halfway through the extensive journey a policy must take on its way to implementation. Why? After a bill is signed, the critical rulemaking phase beings. This process establishes in greater detail how the legislation will be implemented, ensuring that a law operates in the way in which it was originally intended. By advocating for equitable rulemaking, we can ensure policies have positive outcomes on those who face the most barriers to opportunity.  
    Season 4 of The West Steps continues! This week, we are once again featuring a first-ever topic on the podcast: the rulemaking process. Erin Miller, VP of Health Initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign; Shoshi Preuss, Policy Analyst at Covering Kids and Families; and Bethany Pray, Legal Director at Colorado Center on Law and Policy join us for an overview of this critical component of policymaking. Our guests discuss what exactly rulemaking entails, how state agencies guide the process in different ways, and provide examples of recent rulemaking successes that have had a positive impact on Colorado kids and families. While this work may seem more complicated than engaging with the legislative process, advocacy is still just as important. To learn about how you can advocate for laws in the rulemaking process, visit the Colorado Secretary of State, where you can sign up to receive rules and notices of rulemaking. 
    Support the show (https://www.coloradokids.org/)

    • 30 min
    Centering school climate in K-12 education

    Centering school climate in K-12 education

    Research has proven that students are more successful when they feel safe, connected, and have a sense of belonging at school. However, indicators of student success are often centered around academic achievement, overlooking the importance of school climate in contributing to positive student outcomes. As children return to in-person learning after nearly two years of pandemic-related disruptions, Colorado must define a statewide vision for school climate that enables students to feel connected and achieve their goals.  
    We are back with a new episode of The West Steps! Today's conversation centers a first-ever topic on the podcast – school climate. We are joined by Leslie Colwell, V.P. for Education Initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign; Jennifer Levin, Director of Public Policy at The Arc of Colorado; and Veronica Bell, 3rd-grade teacher at KIPP Sunshine Peak Elementary and Teach Plus Colorado Policy Fellow. Our guests provide us with an overview of how school climate impacts the overall well-being and academic performance of students and the current work the School Climate Coalition is undertaking to create better learning environments for kids statewide. The discussion highlights the need to gather data that more adequately measures the school environments students are currently facing. These could include students sense of belonging, fair discipline practices, and behavioral health support. By gathering these data and making them publicly available, they can be used to help advance holistic policy solutions that create school climates in which students are eager to learn and thrive.  
    The School Climate Coalition is eager to elevate the voices of those closest to students. If you are interested in sharing your story and getting involved in this important work, contact Leslie Colwell at leslie@coloradokids.org. 
    Support the show (https://www.coloradokids.org/)

    • 25 min
    Elevating provider voice as HB22-1295 moves through the legislature

    Elevating provider voice as HB22-1295 moves through the legislature

    Prior to the pandemic, Colorado made significant strides in improving the quality standards of early childhood programs. However, since the onset of the public health crisis, existing structural challenges have been exacerbated. Among these challenges include issues with workforce recruitment and retention, enrollment rates, and funding – with many children unable to receive care altogether. High quality early childhood experiences play an important role in child development and ultimately lead to better short- and long-term outcomes. For these reasons and many more, Colorado must work to ensure the doors of these child care centers remain open and that providers and caregivers have ample support to give kids the care they need to thrive. 
    For episode 10 of The West Steps, we are joined by Fatin Ahmad, Assistant Director of Sunshine Academy, for another informative conversation on Colorado's current early childhood landscape. Fatin shares her experiences and challenges as a child care provider, highlighting the urgent need to retain quality teachers to create more fully functional child care spaces. Fatin also discusses the families her center serves and the negative outcomes that may result when children do not receive the care they need due to existing barriers to access. As HB22-1295 makes its way through the legislature, we have hope for the future of Colorado's child care system and the people who rely on it. This bill will begin the implementation process for the Department of Early Childhood and universal preschool. As Fatin emphasizes, to ensure the department achieves its intended goals, we must support providers and families to ensure access to equitable care. 
    Support the show (https://www.coloradokids.org/)

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
10 Ratings

10 Ratings

OriginalKindle ,

An inside look at how policy works

I love learning from experts about policies that impact Colorado’s families. It helps me understand how to engage with issues I care about.

Stefunnyapc ,

Easy to comprehend

I think this does an incredible job of distilling really complex policy ideas and solutions.

Pricetoya ,

Relevant and timely

Awesome Colorado perspective on policies impacting kids and families!

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