How to Start a Daycare in Colorado

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To start a daycare in Colorado:

  • Begin by thoroughly researching state regulations and licensing requirements for childcare facilities. Familiarize yourself with the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Division of Child Care, which oversees licensing and compliance.
  • Whether you are performing in-home childcare or overseeing a large preschool and daycare facility, leveraging tools such as SimplySafeChild’s childcare management software can greatly benefit your operations. The software seamlessly manages alerts, payments, and automation, streamlining your daycare’s management process and reducing the need for additional staff, making it easier to run your daycare smoothly, regardless of its size.
  • Next, develop a comprehensive business plan outlining your daycare’s mission, services, target market, budget, and staffing needs.
  • Secure a suitable location that complies with zoning laws and safety regulations, ensuring it has ample indoor and outdoor space for children to play and learn.
  • Obtain the necessary permits and licenses, including background checks for yourself and any staff members.
  • Consider investing in liability insurance to protect your business and its clients.
  • Additionally, create engaging curriculum and activities tailored to different age groups, focusing on early childhood development and education.
  • Market your daycare through local advertising, a com listing, social media, and community outreach to attract families in need of childcare services.
  • Finally, prioritize safety, cleanliness, and nurturing care to build trust with parents and provide a positive environment for children to thrive.

Opening a center-based or home-based childcare program entails numerous steps and procedures. From devising a marketing strategy and drafting a business plan to selecting a suitable name for your establishment, it’s crucial to organize your tasks effectively. Of utmost importance is understanding the legal obligations specific to your state. In Colorado, operating a daycare where you’ll be responsible for two or more unrelated children necessitates obtaining a license. The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC), under the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), oversees childcare licensing. Before pursuing licensure, it’s essential to determine the type of facility you intend to run and the number of children you’ll care for.

daycare in Colorado

Colorado offers two types of childcare licenses, each involving the same application steps but differing in rules, procedures, and fees:

Non-home childcare licenses encompass five program types, including:

  • Childcare centers: These establishments offer care for over five children ranging from birth to 18 years old.
  • School-aged childcare centers: Specifically designed for children aged five to 18, these facilities provide care for more than five children within that age bracket.
  • Neighborhood youth organizations: Nonprofit organizations focusing on youth development activities, offering services to children aged six to 18.
  • Day treatment centers: Specializing in psycho-social and behavioral treatment, these facilities cater to five or more children aged three to 21.
  • Resident camps: Providing round-the-clock care for three or more consecutive days, these facilities offer immersive camp experiences to children aged six to 18.

Family child care home (FCCH) licenses are intended for caregivers who operate from their homes, providing care for two or more unrelated children at any time, for less than 24 hours. There are five variations of FCCH licenses, which are:

  • Regular FCCH license: Allows the provider to care for one to six children ages birth to 18 years, with a maximum of two children under the age of two. Additionally, the provider can care for up to two school-age children who attend full-day school
  • Three children under 2 FCCH license: Allows the provider to care for children from birth to 18 years, with a maximum of three children under the age of two
  • Infant and toddler home license: Enables the provider to offer child care for children between birth and three years of age. Capacity limits depend on the number of children and the age/experience of the childcare providers in the home
  • Large FCCH license: Permits the provider to care for seven to 12 children ages birth to 18 years, with a maximum of two children under the age of two
  • Experienced family child care provider (ECCP) license: Designed for experienced childcare providers, this license allows them to care for up to nine children in their home, including their own children

Colorado’s social services outline various exemptions from licensing requirements. For instance, certain activities do not necessitate a license, such as:

  • A special school or class in religious instruction
  • A special school or class operated for a single skill-building purpose
  • A child care center operated in connection with and on the premises of a church, shopping center, or business where children are cared for during short periods of time
  • Occasional care of children with or without compensation
  • A family care home that provides less than 24-hour care. Care must only be provided using one of the options below at any one time:
    • Care of children who are directly related to the caregiver by blood, marriage or adoption
    • Care of up to four children, related or unrelated to the caregiver (no more than two children under the age of two years may be cared for at any one time)
  • A childcare facility that is approved, certified, or licensed by any other state department or agency or by a federal government department or agency, which has standards for the operation of the facility and inspects or monitors the facility
  • The medical care of children in nursing homes
  • Guest childcare facilities

Colorado’s regulations for childcare licensing

Starting a daycare in Colorado requires compliance with various licensing requirements depending on the type of facility you intend to open. For all facility types, in-state applicants must complete a:

  • Criminal background check
  • Child abuse and neglect records check
  • State child abuse and neglect registry check (SCAN) (for previous states of residence)
  • State sex offender registry (SSOR) check (for previous states of residence)
  • State criminal history check (SCH) (for previous states of residence)

Out-of-state applicants must:

  • Participate in a child abuse and neglect records check

Non-home care

Provider requirements

Non-home care applicants must:

The Division of Early Care and Learning mandates two primary types of initial training for childcare providers:

  • Pre-Service training, which must be fulfilled before commencing work with children.
  • Orientation training, which must be completed within 30 days of employment.

Training requirements include specific courses and annual clock hours. View licensing training requirements. Requirements for Family Child Care Homes can be found here.

To meet the annual clock hour training requirements, all licensed child care providers are required to have three clock hours of training focused on social emotional development and 12 clock hours of training focused on eight competencies:

  1. Child growth and development and learning or courses that aligns with the competency domains of child growth and development
  2. Child observation and assessment
  3. Family and community partnership
  4. Guidance
  5. Health, safety and nutrition
  6. Professional development and leadership
  7. Program planning and development
  8. Teaching practices
  9. Complete orientation training
  10. Have three clock hours of social-emotional development training
  11. Complete 12 clock hours of training focused on:
    • Child growth and development and learning or courses that align with the competency domains of child growth and development
    • Child observation and assessment
    • Family and community partnership
    • Guidance
    • Health, safety, and nutrition
    • Professional development and leadership
    • Program planning and development
    • Teaching practices
  12. Take the following courses:
    • Building & physical premises safety/storage of hazardous materials & bio-contaminants
    • CPR & first aid certification
    • Emergency and disaster preparedness
    • Recognition & reporting of child abuse & neglect
    • Introduction to the early intervention and preschool special education programs
    • Recognizing the impact of bias on early childhood professionals
    • Infant safe sleep practices
    • Prevention of shaken baby syndrome & abusive head trauma
    • Medication administration training
    • Precautions in transporting children
    • Childcare and preschool immunizations
    • Introduction to childcare health consultation

daycare in Colorado

Ratio requirements

Non-home care applicants must maintain a staff-to-child ratio of:

  • 6 weeks to 18 months (infants): One staff member for five children (1:5)
  • 12 months to 36 months: One staff member for five children (1:5)
  • 24 months to 36 months: One staff member for seven children (1:7)
  • 2-1/2 years to 3 years: One staff member for eight children (1:8)
  • 3 years to 4 years: One staff member 10 children (1:10)
  • 4 years to 5 years: One staff member for 12 children (1:12)
  • 5 years and older: One staff member for 15 children (1:15)
  • Mixed age group (2-1/2 years to 6 years): One staff member for 10 children (1:10)

Family child care home providers must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete orientation training
  • Have three clock hours of social-emotional development training
  • Complete 12 clock hours of training focused on:
    • Child growth and development and learning or courses that align with the competency domains of child growth and development
    • Child observation and assessment
    • Family and community partnership
    • Guidance
    • Health, safety, and nutrition
    • Professional development and leadership
    • Program planning and development
    • Teaching practices
  • Take the following courses:
    • Building & physical premises safety/storage of hazardous materials & bio-contaminants
    • Disaster preparedness and emergency response
    • Prevention of shaken baby syndrome & abusive head trauma
    • Infant safe sleep practices
    • Recognition & reporting of child abuse & neglect
    • CPR & first aid certification
    • Administration of medication
    • Childcare and preschool immunizations
    • Pre-licensing
    • Child Development Associate (CDA) credential (for Large Family Child Care Home License)
    • Expanding Quality in Infant Toddler (EQIT) (for Large Family Child Care, Three Under Two, Infant/Toddler, and Experience Family Child Care Home Licenses)
    • Participate in the state quality rating and improvement system, Colorado Shines, if enrolling children five years or younger

Family child care home applicants must adhere to the following staff-to-child ratio requirements:

  • All ages: One staff member for six children (1:6)
    • This includes family members plus an additional two before- and after-school children
    • No more than two children under two or if the provider has been licensed for at least two years with no substantiated complaints, the provider may be approved for three children under two years of age with no additional school-aged children
  • Infant/toddler: One staff member for four children (1:4) or two staff members for eight children (2:8)
  • Large Family Care Home: Two staff members for 12 children (2:12)
    • This includes two children under two who are siblings of older children

Childcare license application process in Colorado

Before initiating the application process, it is essential to ascertain the applicable license type for the childcare services you intend to offer. Given that the entire licensing procedure can span up to 90 days, the Colorado Office of Early Childhood recommends submitting your childcare license application at least 60 to 90 days before your anticipated start date. Here are the steps for both non-home and family child care license applications.

Non-home childcare license application process

Step 1: Establish Your Provider Hub Credentials

Kickstart the process by setting up your unique username and password on the Provider Hub. This is your gateway to submitting your application and fee online. While a paper application option exists, opting for the online route is advised for expedited processing.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with Licensing Requirements

Before diving in, it’s crucial to delve into the comprehensive regulations and guidelines outlined by the CDHS governing non-home childcare facilities. These encompass various aspects:

Remember, each childcare facility type has its own set of licensing stipulations. Ensure to meticulously review the rules pertinent to your specific license type, spanning categories such as:

Step 3: Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Colorado mandates the acquisition of an EIN for non-home childcare facilities. Head to the IRS website to secure yours before embarking on the application journey.

Step 4: Complete the Non-Home Care Application

Fill out and submit the non-home care application either by mail or through the online provider hub. Don’t forget to include the nonrefundable application fee, which varies based on facility type and capacity. Licensing fees can be settled via various payment modes, including credit card, e-check, check, or money order. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Maximum capacity: 5-15 children, $200
  • Maximum capacity: 16-30 children, $175 + $3 per child
  • Maximum capacity: 31+ children, $300 + $3 per child

Step 5: Gear Up for the Licensing Inspection

Assemble all necessary materials to undergo the initial licensing inspection, which include:

  • Essential authorizations such as zoning, fire safety, and sanitation. While not required with the application submission, these authorizations must be secured before obtaining the childcare license. Your licensing specialist will delve into these during the original licensing inspection.
  • Completion of pre-service and orientation training prior to the initial licensing inspection.
  • Fulfillment of criminal background checks and fingerprinting, with a fee of $35 each for criminal background checks and child abuse and neglect records check.

Step 6: Schedule Your Initial Licensing Inspection

Once your application is in, expect to hear from your licensing specialist for further clarifications and to schedule the crucial licensing inspection. This comprehensive review entails scrutinizing all requisite materials, background checks, and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.

Family child care home license application process

Step 1: Establish Your Provider Hub Credentials

Begin your journey towards becoming a licensed family child care provider by creating your unique username and password on the Provider Hub. This centralized platform serves as the gateway for submitting your application and fee swiftly. While a paper application option exists, opting for the online route is recommended for expedited processing.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with Licensing Requirements

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the regulations governing family child care homes provided by the CDHS. It’s imperative for all prospective providers to review and adhere to:

Additionally, ensure compliance with local zoning laws, building codes, and homeowner association stipulations during this stage.

daycare in Colorado

Step 3: Complete the Application Process

Proceed to fill out and submit the family child care home application either through conventional mail or via the online Provider Hub. Alongside the application, include the requisite nonrefundable fee, which varies based on facility type and capacity. Payment options encompass credit card, e-check, check, or money order. The applicable licensing fees are as follows:

  • Family Child Care Home (1-6 children): $65
  • Family Child Care Home (3 children under 2 years): $65
  • Infant/Toddler Home: $65
  • Large Family Child Care Home (7-12 children): $100
  • Experienced Child Care Provider (ECCP): $100

Experienced Family Child Care Home Providers (ECCP) must also furnish an acknowledgment form alongside their application.

Step 4: Ready Yourself for the Licensing Inspection

Gather the requisite materials for review during the initial licensing inspection, including:

  • Additional authorizations such as zoning, fire safety, and sanitation, which are prerequisites for licensure (although not required to be submitted with the application)
  • Completion of pre-service and orientation training before the initial inspection
  • Undertaking criminal background checks and fingerprinting for all adults residing in the home, including adult employees aged 18 and above. The costs include $49.50 per person for CBI and FBI background checks and $35 for the child abuse and neglect records check.
  • Ensuring every individual residing in the home undergoes an initial health evaluation conducted by a healthcare professional

Step 5: Schedule Your Initial Licensing Inspection

Upon application submission, expect communication from your licensing specialist for further inquiries and to schedule the licensing inspection. During this assessment, they’ll scrutinise all submitted materials, background checks, and ensure regulatory compliance.

Starting a daycare in Colorado requires thorough planning, adherence to state regulations, and a genuine passion for childcare. By following these steps, including obtaining necessary licenses, creating a safe and nurturing environment, developing a comprehensive business plan, and marketing effectively, aspiring daycare owners can lay a solid foundation for a successful venture. With dedication, patience, and a commitment to providing quality care, entrepreneurs can embark on a fulfilling journey of nurturing the next generation while building a thriving business in the vibrant state of Colorado.

Contact Information

Child Care Licensing and Administration

Division of Early Care and Learning, CDEC

710 S. Ash Street

Denver, CO 80246

Phone: 1-800-799-5876 or 303-866-5948

Fax: 303-866-4453

[email protected]

To best market your daycare and utilize coming tools such as all-in-one waitlist management, payment processing, and single scan solutions for parent updates, sign up at https://www.Daycare.com/signup

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