Apply for a Child Care License
The Office of Early Childhood (OEC), Division of Early Care and Learning licenses family child care homes and non-home child care facilities. The Division of Early Care and Learning (DECL) licenses over 5,000 child care facilities in Colorado that provide less than 24-hour care.
The Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant Program was recently created to expand access and availability of licensed child care throughout Colorado and especially in child care deserts. If you are actively pursuing a child care license, you may qualify for funding. Click here to learn more.
Each type of child care facility has its own licensing rules, procedures, and fee-structure for becoming licensed.
- Apply for a Family Child Care Home License: Family Child Care Homes provide less than twenty-four (24) hour care at any time for two (2) or more children that are unrelated to each other or the provider and are cared for in the provider’s place of residence.
- Apply for a Non-Home Child Care License: Non-home child care facilities include child care centers, school-age child care centers, preschools, resident camps, neighborhood youth organizations, and day treatment centers that are not connected to a residential facility.
- Apply for a Substitute Placement Agency License: Substitute placement agencies facilitate or arrange placement of emergency, short-term or long-term substitute child care providers in licensed child care facilities providing less than twenty-four-hour care.
Submit your original child care license application at least 60-90 calendar days prior to the date you plan to start providing care. Because a licensing inspection and background checks are required prior to opening for business, the entire licensing process can take up to 90 days, so please plan accordingly. Applications are processed in the order they are received.
Do NOT submit an original application if you want to make changes to your licensed space (add a basement/add or remove a room used for child care, etc.), change your name, or add/remove residents living in the family child care home. For those changes, please visit the Make Changes to a Child Care License section of the Office of Early Childhood website or call the Office of Early Childhood at 1.800.799.5876.
A NONREFUNDABLE application fee is required when you submit your application.
- Fees vary by facility/license type and capacity. Please review the Licensing Fees Schedule to determine the correct fee. Submitting the incorrect fee will delay the processing of your application.
- Include a check or money order for the licensing application fee with your application. The check or money order must be payable to the Colorado Department of Human Services and should include your license number in the memo if you have one.
Background Check Requirements
There are two separate background check processes that must be completed in order to become licensed to provide child care in Colorado OR to work as an employee or volunteer of a child care facility: criminal background check and child abuse and neglect background check. Please see the Background Check Submission Guide (coming soon!) for more information about the background check process.
Colorado Shines is the quality rating and improvement system for all of Colorado’s licensed early care and learning programs serving children ages 0-5. All licensed early care and learning programs serving children ages 0-5 in Colorado enter the Colorado Shines rating system as a Level 1 program. Explore the Program Resources and FAQ pages for more information about the rating process.