Colorado Senate Democrats
Oct 13, 2023
MARCHMAN TO CHAMPION LEGISLATION THAT IMPROVES OUTDOOR NATURE BASED PRESCHOOLS
MARCHMAN: "BY ALLOWING ONBS TO OPERATE FULL-DAY PROGRAMS, WE WILL CREATE JOB OPPORTUNITIES, MAKE ONBS MORE ACCESSIBLE TO WORKING FAMILIES, AND ENSURE KIDS GET THE QUALITY EDUCATION THEY DESERVE”
DENVER CO – Today, Senator Janice Marchman, D-Loveland, visited the Nature School Cooperative as she prepares her upcoming legislation that would allow licensure for outdoor nature based schools (ONBs) and increase their operations. ONBs have the same child development goals that traditional schools have, but meet those goals through experiences in and with nature. These schools are growing in popularity due to their unique format and support for students with diverse learning needs. However, ONBs currently have no way to obtain licensure. Despite currently operating via waivers and exemption statuses, roadblocks remain in place for ONBs, such as their inability to support full-day preschool. Marchman has toured multiple ONBs and met with parents and program directors to prepare her upcoming legislation that will aid the licensure and transition process.
“I had a great time today connecting with faculty, staff, and students at the outdoor preschool,” Marchman said. “Colorado is in the midst of an early-childhood education crisis, which is why it’s imperative that we develop a formal licensure process for ONBs and expand childcare options. By allowing ONBs to operate full-day programs, we will create job opportunities, make ONBs more accessible to working families, and ensure kids get the quality education they deserve.”
Eighty-two percent of Coloradans work full-time. Full-day licensure for ONBs would break down barriers for working families and add an estimated 340 additional spots for children. Additionally, full-day operations would support these small businesses by creating jobs in local communities.
Marchman, a teacher and Vice Chair of the Senate Education Committee, also toured the Thorne Nature Experience as a part of her preparation. Last session, Marchman sponsored numerous bills to support Colorado’s students, including legislation to increase mental health workers in schools, broaden loan forgiveness for higher education faculty, and expand the teacher workforce.