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Posted on: July 27, 2022

Kids First Gives $38K to Support Early Childhood Teachers and Program Directors


Kids First Gives $38K to Support Early Childhood Teachers and Program Directors

Contact:  Shirley Ritter, Director of Kids First, 970-920-5370 or

Aspen, Colo. – July 27, 2022 – Kids First, the City of Aspen’s early childhood resource center, rewarded 51 early childhood teachers and directors with $38,000 in VIP awards for the first half of 2022. Another award cycle has begun with more payouts scheduled for December 2022.

The VIP Program is part of Kids First’s quality improvement goal with a designated outcome of retaining high quality staff in early childhood education programs and encouraging teachers to further their training and education.  All teachers and directors working at a program in Pitkin County are eligible for up to $2,400 per year and some programs offer matching awards to their teachers.

“The Kids First Advisory Board and staff developed this supplemental award to recognize the essential work teachers and directors are doing to provide our community with high quality childcare in Pitkin County,” said Shirley Ritter, director of Kids First.

Teachers and directors earn points, which translate into financial reward, by working a certain number of hours each week, completing early childhood education college classes, working in programs with high ratings through the State of Colorado, receiving coaching on early childhood education, participating in trainings, and general professional development.

“This is so great because little do people realize how much coaching, training, and continual learning that pre-school teachers do for their own professional growth already.  This adds to retention and feels like a bonus for what they are already doing, and they feel valued.  What an added treat to feel like we are being recognized another way,” said Tina Person, director of Wildwood School.

Program teachers and directors who received are from the following programs: Aspen Sprouts, Early Learning Center, Growing Years, and Wildwood School.  All programs in Pitkin County are eligible to apply for the reward twice a year.


Kids First serves the community as an early childhood resource center that supports quality, affordable childcare choices in Aspen and Pitkin County. It is funded by a portion of a dedicated sales tax in Aspen.

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