Child Care Licensing and Administration

  • Apply for a Child Care License

    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. If you are interested in starting a Family Child Care Home business, a Colorado child care license will allow you to operate safely and legally. For more information about licensing requirements and detailed instructions on how to submit an original family child care home application, register here for a FREE 1-hour orientation.
    • 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.

    Application Fees 

    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 

    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.

    Choose Safe Places 

    Choose Safe Places is a voluntary program for early care and preschool education providers to identify and address potential environmental concerns at or around child care facilities to protect children and staff from harmful substances in their environment.

  • Exemptions from Child Care Licensing

    Some individuals and facilities are exempt from child care licensing. Learn more about legally exempt child care facilities.

  • Make Changes to a Child Care License
    Please complete the Change Request form to let the child care licensing team know that you need to make changes to your current child care license. This form cannot be used to change license types or physical location addresses.  An original application is required for these changes.  

    For Family Child Care Homes Only:  If you need to add a household member or employee to your family child care home, please complete and submit the Change Request form AND the Person in Home Authorization form.

    If you have questions, please contact the Office of Early Childhood at 1-800-799-5876 or
  • Continue a Child Care License

    The Division of Early Care and Learning will send currently licensed child care facilities a continuation form and instructions 90 days prior to the license anniversary date.    The notice will include a continuation form and instructions.

  • School District Monitoring

    The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) worked collaboratively with school district representatives to simplify the licensing process and identify areas where onsite monitoring by CDHS licensing staff could be expedited.

    As a result, school districts have the opportunity to submit district-wide documentation to CDHS regarding compliance with specific health and safety requirements in order to streamline the individual site inspection process conducted by licensing. School districts may apply by submitting the documentation outlined in the attached form, verifying that the school district maintains standards for the operation of the facility in compliance with the standards required by CDHS licensing rules, to the appropriate CDHS licensing supervisor. View the School District Monitoring Submission Guide

    View the list of Licensing Supervisors and the Metro Area School District Licensing Contacts that includes contact information and the geographic area they supervise. CDHS licensing supervisors will review the documentation you provide. Once reviewed and accepted as evidence of compliance with the specific health and safety standards outlined, they will update the CDHS licensing tracking system showing approval. This approval will remain in place as long as the school district continues to supply the required documentation annually. View the School District and Licensing Monitoring Document.

    • Resources and Guides

    Questions? Contact the Child Care Licensing & Administration Unit:

    Child Care Licensing and Administration
    Division of Early Care and Learning, CDHS
    1575 Sherman Street, 1st Floor
    Denver, CO 80203
    Phone: 1-800-799-5876 or 303-866-5948
    Fax: 303-866-4453

    Contact your Licensing Specialist for information regarding your facility or technical assistance.

    View the Division of Early Care and Learning's Licensing Specialist caseload assignment list

    Sign up to receive child care licensing and administration notifications.