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Congressman Jared Polis visits CSU’s Early Childhood Center

Congressman Jared Polis visits Colorado State University’s Early Childhood Education Center to gain a better understanding of pre-schools as part of his initiatives to provide more access to education (Rob Scarselli | Collegian)

Colorado representative Jared Polis  visited Colorado State University’s Early Childhood Center Monday afternoon to gain a better understanding of pre-schools as part of his initiatives to provide more access to education.

Polis recently proposed two bills in Washington, D.C. that would expand access to affordable and quality education. The first bill aims to expand high-quality pre-schools to children and the second aims to help students obtain an associate’s degree, according to a media advisory. 


 Karen Rattenborg, the executive director at ECC,  said Polis visited the center to have a better understanding of what is going on with early childhood education and child care in the Fort Collins area.

“When they called me, they said they were on campus today (and) he saw this as an opportunity to come see what was happening at the Early Childhood Center,” Rattenborg said. “It’s super exciting … anytime anybody shows an interest in early childhood (education).”

Rattenborg said it is important for childhood development programs to be more accessible for families.

“One of the things we know is that the first five years of a person’s development is critically important and we need to support families in helping children in their first five years, so access and affordability are really important issues when it comes to child care,” Rattenborg said. “In this Fort Collins community, we have a lot of issues with access. It’s really hard to find child care, and child care is expensive.”

Rattenborg said the building the ECC is currently housed in was purchased by CSU in 2009 and renovated into a childcare facility by January 2013. The ECC received around $4.1 million in donations from CSU students and other foundations, including the Griffin Foundation and the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation.

According to Rattenborg, the ECC provides 60 percent of its childcare services to CSU students, faculty and staff and the remaining 40 percent of its services to the Fort Collins community.

“Last year in 2016, we served about 139 families with their children, and we also served 136 CSU students in practicums and internship,” Rattenborg said. “That really highlights that we’re not just a child care center, we’re a training facility, and that those jobs are equally important. They support the needs of everybody.”

In addition to providing childcare services, the ECC provides internship opportunities for students in CSU’s School of Education and Human Development of Family Studies department. Rattenborg also said that in previous years, around 45-75 students studying food science and human nutrition make snacks for the children. Graduate students studying occupational therapy and music therapy have the opportunity to study occupational therapy in the context of childcare and teach music classes, according to Rattenborg.


“We’re a super hopping place,” Rattenborg said. “We provide child care for all the families … but then we’re also serving all the students.”

Polis’ visit to the ECC is one of multiple educational visits he made Monday and will make Tuesday. Polis visited Thompson Valley High and Front Range Community College before visiting the ECC Monday and is expected to visit the Boulder Technical Education Campus, Creekside Elementary School and the National Snow and Ice Date Center Tuesday.

Collegian news director Haley Candelario can be reached at or on Twitter @H_Candelario98.

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