The Complete Overview to Child Care Provider Licensing

The Complete Overview To Child Care Provider Licensing

Colorado’s Child Care Regulations are designed to keep the children in care safe and healthy while providing an environment for them to learn and grow. While these rules and regulations are a good thing, they also mean that as a child care provider, licensing concerns are another aspect of child care that you need to consider.

What Is Child Care Licensing?

Child care licensing is a government regulatory activity that, essentially, gives child care providers the authorization to operate a child care facility. More specifically to Colorado, The

Colorado Department of Human Services Division of Child Care is responsible for:

  • Monitoring compliance with Colorado state standards
  • Establishing license revoking procedures
  • Providing appeal mechanisms for child care providers with licensing issues

When it comes to child care licensing, there’s a fair bit to know before you can have peace of mind as a child care provider. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know when it comes to licensing as a child care provider.

1. Types Of Care That Must Be Licensed

In Colorado, the below forms of child care need to be licensed:

Child Care Centers

These are facilities that offer full- and/or part-time child care in a nonresidential building. Some examples of this:

  • Nursery schools
  • Prekindergartens
  • Preschools
  • Other centers affiliated with religious practices

If child care providers fall under this category of child care, it is expected that they ensure they undergo licensing.

Large Child Care Homes

Generally, a small child care center has 5 to 15 children (2 to 16 years old) in its care, whereas large centers care for 16 or more children from (2.5 to 16 years old). But, as far as licensing goes, centres that are in a residence and care for 7 to 12 children (2 years and older) do qualify as a large child care center and will need to comply with regulations within that category.

Family Child Care Homes

A center that offers full- or part-time child care will need to qualify for family child care licensing requirements.

2. Types Of Care That May Operate Without A License

As you may have gathered from above, the following forms of child care are exempt from licensing:

  • Family child care for 1 or 2 children from the same family that is less than 24-hour care
  • Child care centers that religious instruction more than 50% of the time children are in care
  • Child care that is provided infrequently
  • A child care facility licensed by any other approved state department or agency

3. Licenses

What do you need to know about child care provider licensing? Here are some of the most important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Child care centers must be licensed
  • Child care provider licenses must be clearly posted
  • Note that while a permanent license doesn’t expire and renewal is not required, a child care provider must submit a declaration of compliance and self-evaluation on an annual basis
  • A provisional license is issued for 6 months and must be renewed

4. State Inspectioṇ

What is there to know about state inspections when it comes to child care provider licensing?

  • Inspection is mandatory prior to licensing
  • Inspection can be made at random for up to 60 days of a complaint (depending on the severity of the claimed issue)
  • Notice: all inspections of the child care facility are unannounced, as is stated under child care provider licensing regulations. The only exception to this when notice is given for the initial state inspection and in any instance where the child care provider is attempting to change the license capacity

5. Staff

Licensing has an influence on so many facets of your child care facility. In fact, staffing your facility as a child care provider is dictated by licensing as well.

Child ratios dictate how many staff are required per children in care and are influenced by the age(s) of the children in care. As a guide, below is a table of the staff to child ratio based on the age of the children in care.

Age of Children in Care

Staff to Child Ratio

6 weeks to 18 months old


12 to 36 months


2 to 3 years


2.5 to 3 years


3 to 4 years


4 to 5 years


5+ years and older


The above table demonstrates the staff to child ratio if the children are of the same small age range. If like many child care providers, the group age varies, the general rule of thumb is 1:10, but it is dependent on your licensing authority. The max group size for a mixed age group is 20 children.

Staff Qualifications

Depending on the position at the child care facility, the minimum age for a staff member is 16 years old or 18 years old and have proven experience, education and references.

For a complete breakdown of child care provider licensing requirements for staff qualifications, visit page 5 of the Child Care Regulations in Colorado.

Other areas that influence your staffing needs include these child care provider licensing requirements:

  • CPR and first aid: one person trained in pediatric CPR must be present at all times.
  • Staff medical requirements:
    - Must have a current physical exam record.
    - Must have TB test before beginning work and must have chest X-ray if sensitive to TB test.
    - Must have immunizations as required by a personal physician.
  • Staff background checks: Staff background checks must be completed, including fingerprinting, an FBI criminal background check, and a child abuse registry check.

6. Rights And Obligations

While there are some minor variations to each of the following categories, child care provider licensing stipulates factors regarding:

  • Discipline policy
  • Parents’ rights
  • Health and safety requirements
  • Child medical requirements
  • Care for sick children

Licensing Can Be Simple

Even though there’s a lot to think about when preparing for your initial child care providing licensing visit or ensuring that your child care center is compliant on a day-to-day basis, licensing can be made easy with the proper knowledge and the right tools.

Are you looking for more child care management information? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Child Care Management.

Our child care management system makes running your child care program simple and efficient. Get back to what's most important. You shouldn't have to spend more time on the administrative tasks than you do with children and staff. 

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Or schedule a demo with us to learn more about how our child care management system, Alliance Core, can streamline your administrative processes.

Do you run an early childhood association made up of child care providers? If so, check out our Ultimate Guide to Shared Service Alliance.

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