If you’re getting ready to start a child care operation in Colorado, you’ll need to apply for the right kind of child care license before you can get started.
This go-to guide explains the different types of child care licenses you may want to apply for and how to determine which option works best for you. We also provide step-by-step instructions for understanding Colorado’s child care regulations and accessing the resources you’ll need to successfully navigate the licensing process.
Keep reading to discover how you can start working toward your Colorado child care license.
Colorado Child Care Licensing Overview
Child care licensing in Colorado is managed by the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) at the Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS). Before you can get started on the child care licensing process in Colorado, you’ll need to determine which type of license applies to the child care business you want to operate.
Colorado provides two different categories of child care licenses: one for home-based care, and one for center-based care. Each category includes multiple child care license types that depend on the context of care, program size and other variables. Below, we provide a summary of the available child care license types in Colorado.
Family Child Care Home License
A family child care home (FCCH) license is issued for the care provider’s place of residence. A FCCH provides care for two or more unrelated children and operates for fewer than 24 hours per day.
Under Colorado’s current framework, there are five different types of FCCH licenses that a home-based provider may apply for:
- Regular FCCH License – This license allows the holder to care for one to six children from birth to 18 years old, with a maximum of two children under the age of two. The holder may also care for up to two school-age children who attend full-day school.
- 3 Children Under 2 FCCH License – This license allows the holder to care for children from birth to 18 years old, with a total of three children under age two.
- Infant/Toddler Home License – This license allows the holder to provide child care for children between birth and three years of age. Capacity limits vary based on the number of kids and the age/experience of child care providers in the home.
- Large FCCH License – This license allows the holder to care for seven to 12 children from birth to 18 years old in the home, with a maximum of two children under age two.
- Experienced Family Child Care Provider (ECCP) License – Experienced child care providers can apply for the ECCP license, which allows the provider to care for up to nine children in the home (including their own).
Check out the Colorado DCFS Home License Submission Guide for more details on the requirements for each type of FCCH-licensed facility.
Non-Home Child Care License
Non-home child care licenses in Colorado cover five different types of programs:
- Child Care Centers – Facilities that care for more than five children from birth to 18 years of age.
- School-aged Child Care Centers – Facilities that care for more than five children from ages five to 18.
- Neighborhood Youth Organizations – A nonprofit that provides youth development activities for kids between six and 18 years of age.
- Resident Camps – A facility that provides 24-hour care for three or more consecutive days to kids from ages six to 18.
- Day Treatment Centers – A facility that provides psycho-social and behavioral treatment for five or more children from ages three to 21.
Getting Your Child Care License in Colorado
Now let’s look at the child care license application process in Colorado.
The Colorado Office of Early Childhood recommends starting the application process at least 60-90 days before you intend to begin operating your child care center.
Step One: Get in Compliance with Child Care Licensing Rules
By now, you should have determined which of the license types listed above will apply to the child care business you plan to operate. As you begin the child care application process, the first step is to consult the Colorado Code of Regulations and learn more about the child care rules and laws that you will need to follow.
Regardless of which child care license type you plan to apply for, you’ll be able to find the applicable licensing rules under 12 CCR 2509-8 – Child Care Facility Licensing.
As you prepare to file your application, you must have a plan to achieve compliance with the applicable child care laws before opening your center.
Step Two: Complete Your Child Care License Application
Once you’re familiar with the applicable child care laws and are prepared to achieve compliance before opening your center, it’s time to file your licensing application.
If you’re applying for an FCCH license, you’ll need to complete the Family Child Care Home Original License Application.
If you’re applying for a non-home license, you’ll need to complete the Non-Home Original License Application.
Step Three: Prepare Application Materials
In addition to your license application, you may need to submit additional materials and documentation to satisfy the licensing requirements.
If you’re applying for an FCCH license, you’ll need to submit the following:
- Proof of Lawful Presence in the United States Affidavit for both applicants
- A completed Facility Child Abuse and Neglect (Trails) Request for each non-resident employee of the home
If you’re applying for a non-home license as a sole proprietorship without a Federal Employer Identification Number, you’ll need to complete a Proof of Lawful Presence Affidavit. If you plan to offer transportation services for kids, you’ll need to complete a Transportation Information Form.
Step Four: Pay Fees & Submit Your Application Package
Once you’ve prepared all the materials, you’ll need to submit your application package and pay the applicable fees.
You can check out the child care licensing fee schedule on the Colorado OEC website to determine the appropriate fees for your application. Paying the wrong fees can delay your application, so be sure to pay the right amount.
Step Five: Prepare for Your Licensing Inspection
Once you have submitted your child care license application, you’ll need to wait for a reply email that will include your child care license number. Still, you won’t be able to operate your child care business until you’ve completed a licensing inspection.
Here’s how to prepare:
- Complete all pre-service training requirements for child care providers in Colorado. You can visit the OEC website to access a current list of approved training vendors.
- Complete criminal background checks and fingerprinting. You’ll need to receive a fingerprinting instruction letter from the OEC before you can start this process.
- Complete the Child Care Provider Health Evaluation for every person living in the home (if applying for FCCH license).
Step Six: Schedule Your Licensing Inspection
Once you have submitted your application, you should receive a call from the OEC within 45 days to schedule a licensing inspection. If you don’t receive a call during this time, it’s okay to follow up by contacting the OEC directly.
During the inspection, a licensing specialist will visit your family home or center-based care facility to verify your compliance with the child care licensing rules. The licensing specialist may also review your background checks, health statements and training certificates to ensure that you are qualified to operate a child care facility.
Step Seven: Receive Your Colorado Child Care License
Once you successfully complete your licensing inspection, you will be issued a license to operate your child care business in Colorado. Congratulations!
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If you’re launching a child care business in Colorado, Procare makes it easy to:
- Manage every part of your business with our child care management app.
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- Enhance family engagement and build a loyal child care community.
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