Family Child Care Home and Availability of Care Navigators

The Need

Senate Bill 19-063 required the Department of Human Service, Office of Early Childhood (now Colorado Department of Early Childhood) to study the effects of the decline of family child care home (FCCH) providers in Colorado. Through this study, several recommendations were identified around connecting FCCH providers to available services and supports. 

The Strategy 

To address some of these concerns, FCCH Navigators were established within local early childhood councils to support these providers and help them through the licensing process. Additionally, Availability of Care (AOC) Navigators were established within early childhood council service areas to support the reporting of real- time slot openings for parents. This need became apparent during the pandemic as families found themselves scrambling for child care options. 

Both roles serve as support agents for providers pursuing licensing or for providers who are already licensed. These roles provide guidance and support in the following areas: 

  • Grant and funding information 
  • Data system navigation 
  • Quality improvement 
  • Licensure process, rules and regulations 
  • Professional development and training opportunities 
  • Small business development 
  • Universal Preschool Program support 
  • Relationship and trust building through regular communication between the navigators and the providers in their early childhood council catchment areas

Key Outcomes and Learnings 

A monthly brief is available, which provides up-to-date data on this activity’s impact. 

Offering a local contact for providers to easily access information and resources has increased trust within and supported the navigation of early childhood systems work across the state. The level of engagement between providers and navigators highlights that providers are more likely to engage with a trusted partner who understands their community. 

CDEC has gained a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the field: 

  • Classrooms being shut down due to staffing shortages, despite programs having wait lists 
  • Directors needed to work in classrooms to support staffing shortages and staff time-off requests 
  • Limited offering of professional development in providers' native language 
  • Requiring upfront funding to assist with licensing costs FCCH providers who are planning to retire will leave gaps in the community 
  • The Universal Preschool Program is challenging for providers to navigate and understand 

Flexibility in funding to support navigator staff is critical to meeting unique community needs, and there may be value in combining the AOC and FCCH navigator roles.

green gear labeled access and quality


Amount: $5,893,113


  • American Rescue Plan Discretionary 
  • Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA)

Expiration: September 30, 2023


Evidence Brief

"Availability and Outreach of Child Care (AOC) Navigator Program and Family Child Care Home (FCCH) Navigator Program" 

Marzano Research 

(September 2023)



Program at a Glance

Currently, there are 15 FCCH Navigators and nine AOC Navigators supporting child care providers across the state. 

FCCH Navigators: 

  • Report engaging with 70% or greater of all eligible providers in their catchment area
  • Work alongside FCCH Associations to support and communicate community-level challenges, including zoning, licensing and business management
  • Support providers with the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), Professional Development Information System (PDIS), quality improvement, classroom management, networking opportunities, community-level resources and engagement and advocacy
  • Support family, friend and neighbor playgroups through providing resources
  • Provide Universal Preschool Program support 

AOC Navigators:

  • Report engaging with 60% or greater of all eligible providers in their catchment area 
  • Update the Colorado Shines data system to display updated openings for families seeking child care options 
  • Support providers with technical assistance related to data systems, grant navigation, CCCAP, PDIS, Quality Improvement and Universal Preschool Program 
  • Provide families with care referrals

Testimonials and Feedback

Arapahoe Early Childhood Council’s FCCH Navigator reported that their position’s function has evolved. In addition to helping FCCH programs become licensed, the navigator also supports them through their quality improvement journey. 

The Bright Futures (serving Delta, San Miguel, Quray, Montrose and San Juan counties) FCCH Navigator reports that providers are showing a willingness to engage, and indicates this resource is helping to keep stress levels down.

Yuma, Washington, Kit Carson Early Childhood Council: 

“A fairly new provider in Yuma County who is English-speaking only had a child care inquiry from a Spanish family. She asked the Council if she could get information on who could translate her policies. Within a few days she was able to have her policies translated and in her hands." 

Teller Park Early Childhood Council Navigator: 

"More interaction on a day to day basis. As providers get to know me and my role better, it easier for them to ask for assistance.” 

Early Childhood Council of Logan, Phillips and Sedgwick: 

“Consistent communication and positive relationships already made and building on them have contributed to the success of the Navigator program in our area. Providers are comfortable and confident to reach out for assistance when needed.” 

FCCH providers in Larimer County were asked what they found valuable about their navigator and reported the following benefits: 

“Chelsea was very helpful in introducing me to my coach and facilitating a reimbursement for some of my costs incurred during my licensing process.” 

“The support in general. I have felt a little lost on who I can go to with questions about the whole process of opening a daycare.” 

“Chelsea was a huge help in supporting me during my time getting licensed. She allowed me to ask questions and provided helpful answers. She guided me in getting the reimbursement I needed for school materials. She was able to guide me to the right resources.” 

Mesa County Licensing Specialist: 

"We have had an excellent experience with the navigator position. It has helped us a lot! Our council has also assigned a quality improvement navigator from day one whether the person is engaged in the quality process or not and that has helped a lot as well. Our council is also a pre-licensing vendor and the relationship we have with them makes the provider's experience much better and streamlined. We need more supports like this and linked very closely with licensing. I think if they were to exist on their own and not in connection to licensing as well as it is here in Mesa it would have its limitations.”