Colorado Childcare Licensing and Regulations

There is nothing more precious in life than your child. Whether you are a parent or guardian, the safety and well-being of the child you have been entrusted with taking care of is undoubtedly one of your greatest concerns in life. The state of Colorado has gone to great lengths to ensure childcare is available to all parents and guardians, going so far as to set up a state-wide initiative that guarantees licensed childcare provision for low-income families.

Types of Child Care Providers and Licensing Criteria

The Division of Childcare at Colorado’s Office of Early Childhood provides licensure options to five different type of childcare providers in the state. There are nearly 9,000 licensed facilities scattered across Colorado, and each facility is encouraged to create and maintain a child-safe environment centered around Child Care Quality Initiatives. The initiatives are three part and are meant to ensure a strong sense of community while simultaneously building a strong educational foundation for each child enrolled in a licensed childcare facility (in-home and otherwise). The first initiative is foundational practices. These practices include management, businesses practices, and leadership, as well as workforce qualifications and professional development. The second initiative supported by the division is daily practices. These practices include family partnerships and curriculum development. Finally, the third initiative is comprehensive practices, which includes mental health consultations and general health screenings. According to the Division of Childcare, early learning centers and care providers that facilitate these practices will be more apt to offer high quality care to children. The Quality Initiatives program provides resources such as technical assistance and professional development to create and maintain a measurable improvement in quality of care for Colorado’s children.

The Colorado Department of Human Services certifies various childcare providers within the state include the following: childcare centers (including preschools), school-age centers, family child care homes, child placement agencies, camps, and residential facilities. According to the Office of Early Childhood, the state requires a childcare center be licensed if five children are taken care of within the facility. Also, family childcare homes must be licensed if more than two unrelated children are looked after at any one time. Family child care homes that provide less than twenty-four hours of care for related children do not have to be licensed by the state. Additionally, facilities that incorporate more than 75% of religious activities into their enrollees’ day are not required to be certified by the state. Individual, privately-hired “nannies” and “babysitters” are exempt from the licensure requirement; however, individual employers may request their employees go through the same process required by the state for licensure (ie. fingerprinting, background checks, etc.).

How to Become a Licensed Provider

The state of Colorado has made the licensure and certification process as simple as possible for all proposed childcare providers. For those interested in opening their homes to children or those who are about to establish a new childcare facility outside of their homes, all they must do is click on the link below.

For those interested in opening their homes to children:!family-child-care-homes/cak5

For those interested in establishing a childcare facility outside of their home:!child-care-centers/c1dos

In addition to filling out the forms found at the above-listed links, those seeking licensure must also submit to a criminal background check, fingerprinting, and any other additional testing required by the state of Colorado. The Quality Initiatives Program provides much of the required training for certification and licensure. Otherwise, all required forms can be found above. The department will send a specialist out to your location of proposed childcare in order to inspect it for quality and safety. All forms must be sent to the office 90 days prior to opening your home or your facility to childcare.

How to Check If Your Provider is Licensed

For those seeking licensed childcare, the state of Colorado has provided a plethora of resources available at your fingertips.

Parents and guardians can contact the Resource and Referral Agency directly:
This website searches through individual counties; it finds licensed providers in or near your area.

Parents can also conduct a search on the Office of Early Childhood’s website:
This website is sponsored by the Colorado Department of Human Services and guarantees childcare providers endorsed through the search engine are licensed and certified by the state of Colorado.

Additionally, the Office of Early Childhood’s website provides a list of tips for parents and guardians seeking certified childcare provider:!tips-for-choosing-childcare/caxp
The tips provided are endorsed by the Division of Childcare, a division at the Colorado Department of Human Services.

For working individuals who want to ensure their children are provided for, it is important to acquire dependable, safe childcare. Fortunately for Colorado residents, doing so has become one of the easier tasks of being a parent.