- Search for Colorado Shines Quality Rated Programs
Colorado Shines is a quality rating and improvement system for Colorado's licensed early care and learning programs. Colorado Shines rates early learning programs and connects families with quality child care and preschool programs. It measures quality based on how a program supports its children, families and professionals. This free search tool allows families to search for early childhood programs utilizing information such as location, hours, licensing, and the Colorado Shines quality rating. Additional information about Colorado Shines and Universal Preschool is coming soon.
Look for the Colorado Shines logo to identify licensed and quality early care and learning programs.
- Contact a Child Care Resource and Referral Agency
Child Care Resource and Referral agencies work to connect you with quality early learning programs, like child care and preschool, valuable local resources, and tips for choosing a child care facility.
For assistance in finding quality child care, call the Colorado Shines Child Care Referral Line at Mile High United Way at 877-338-2273 (CARE). A trained referral specialist will help you locate programs specific to your needs.
- View Child Care Facility Licensing History
Colorado Shines allows you to look up child care facilities throughout Colorado. You can search for child care facilities by address, zip code, city, or provider name. You can also find detailed reports of each child care provider and request an email or in-person file review for up to five providers by calling 303-866-6029 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Financial Assistance
Colorado’s new Universal Preschool Program will provide ten hours of preschool in the year before entering kindergarten. Beyond these ten hours, financial assistance is available to families who may not be able to afford quality child care or preschool. The resources on this page will help you learn more about the programs and help you to see if you qualify for aid.
COMING SOON - The Colorado Universal Preschool Program
Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, every child in Colorado, regardless of income, will have access to ten hours of Universal Preschool in the year before they qualify to enter kindergarten. Some families may qualify for additional hours, either through the Universal Preschool Program, the programs listed below, or other local programs, while other families may coordinate with their preschool provider to pay out-of-pocket for additional hours. Applications for Universal Preschool will open in early 2023–stay tuned.
Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP)
Colorado’s Office of Early Childhood offers child care subsidies for families who need help affording quality child care. Learn more about the program and how to apply for assistance.
Colorado Preschool Program (CPP)
The Colorado Preschool Program is a state-funded early childhood education program administered by the Colorado Department of Education. Children who are eligible for CPP have the opportunity to attend half-day or full-day preschool or full-day kindergarten at a reduced cost. Beginning in July 2023, CPP will be unified with the new Universal Preschool Program (UPK). Once unified with UPK, families who meet risk factors will continue to qualify for state-funded childcare for both three- and four-year-olds. In the case of four-year-olds, this will be in addition to the ten hours provided for all children in their year before kindergarten.
Denver Preschool Program (DPP)
The Denver Preschool Program helps eligible Denver families pay for high-quality preschool. To qualify, families must reside in the City and County of Denver and have a four-year old child enrolled at a participating program and in their last year of preschool before kindergarten.
Head Start/Early Head Start Program
Head Start promotes school readiness for children from low-income families. From birth to age five, Head Start provides children a learning environment that enhances their cognitive, social and emotional development.
- Health and Safety Requirements
The Division of Early Care and Learning is committed to the health and safety of children in licensed early care and learning settings. Learn more about health and safety requirements.
Social, Emotional and Behavioral Policies for Licensed Child Care Facilities
Licensed Child Care Centers must have policies in place regarding guidance, positive instruction, supporting positive child behavior, and discipline and consequences. These policies must identify how the Child Care Center will:
- Access an early childhood mental health consultant or other specialist, as needed.
- Create and maintain a socially and emotionally respectful early learning and care environment.
- Cultivate positive child, staff and family relationships.
- Implement teaching strategies supporting positive behavior, pro-social peer interaction, and overall social and emotional competence in young children.
- Provide individualized social and emotional intervention supports for children who need them, including methods for understanding child behavior and developing, adopting, and implementing a team-based positive behavior support plan with the intent to reduce challenging behavior and prevent suspensions and expulsions.
Child Care centers must also have policies in place defining how decisions are made and what steps are taken prior to the suspension, expulsion or request to parents or guardians to withdraw a child from care due to concerns about the child's behavioral issues. Procedures must be consistent with the center's policy on guidance, positive instruction, discipline and consequences, and include documentation of the steps taken to understand and respond to challenging behavior. Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants can be part of the team that works together with programs to improve social and emotional environments and relationships, and support children who are exhibiting challenging behavior.
Prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Safe Sleep Practice Requirements
Licensed child care facilities that care for children ages 0 to 2 years old must follow all safe sleep requirements at all times. Talk with your child care provider regarding the importance of maintaining safe sleep practices for your child. Child Care provider safe sleep requirements include:
- Infant must be placed in an approved crib, on his or her back to sleep.
- Infants must be supervised and physically checked frequently while sleeping.
- Infants must be placed to sleep in an approved crib (centers and family child care homes) or pack and play (family child care homes only) with a clean, firm, snug-fitting mattress which is manufactured for the specific equipment being used. The equipment must be safe, sturdy and free from hazards. Drop side cribs are prohibited.
- The sleep equipment must have fitted sheet. The sheet must not be so tight that the corners of the mattress pull up or so loose that the sheet gathers or bunches.
- Soft bedding that could pose a suffocation hazard is not allowed in the sleep environment including, but not limited to: bumper pads, pillow, blanket, quilt, sleep positioning device; flat sheet, bib, plush toys and stuffed animals.
- Infants who fall asleep in/on equipment not approved for sleep must be moved to an approved sleep environment immediately.
- Swaddling is allowed only with a health care plan completed and signed by the child’s physician. Use of sleep sacks which double as swaddling devices are not allowed.
- There should be no blanket or other material which covers or drapes over the sleeping equipment. Mobiles or other types of play equipment that attach to any part of the sleep equipment are not allowed.
- There should be nothing that covers the infant’s head and face.
- The room temperature must be comfortable so the infant does not overheat.
The Division of Early Care and Learning will now notify parents of safe sleep violations observed during annual inspections of their child care facility. If you see any violations of safe sleep requirements in your child's facility, call the Office of Early Childhood at 303-866-5958 to file a complaint.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers recommendations for sleep safety at home. More information on safe sleep can be found on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Children’s Hospital Colorado websites.
- Legally Exempt Child Care Facilities
Colorado's Child Care Licensing Act allows certain child care facilities to be exempt from licensing requirements. Learn more about legal exemptions.
- File a Complaint with the Division of Early Care and Learning
To make a complaint, call 303-866-5958 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. If calling outside of business hours, you may leave a message. Provide your name, telephone number and mailing address. This information is required for the following reasons:
- To call you back if the investigator needs more specific information about the complaint,
- To call you back if the investigator received contradictory or unclear information during the investigation, and
- To call you to let you know the results of the investigation.
A witness or someone who has first-hand knowledge of the abuse must make the complaint. An anonymous complaint can be made only if the complaint is about an unlicensed child care provider.
All information is kept confidential about parents and children in care. The facility will never know who made the complaint.
Call 911 immediately if you witness a child in a life-threatening situation.
Report Child Abuse or Neglect - 24/7 Hotline: Call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (844-264-5437)
Report Suspected Unlicensed Child Care: Call 303-866-5958
Report Alcohol or Drug Abuse
If the provider is currently under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the provider's ability to care for children is impaired, please follow these steps:
- Call the police. Write down the name of the person you speak with.
- Call the Division of Early Care and Learning at 303-866-5958.
- Be prepared to give the following information:
- Your name, phone number and mailing address
- The Licensee's name, phone number and address
- Where the incident occurred
- Brief description about the incident/circumstances
- View Child Care Facility Closures
Find a New Child Care Facility
The Department of Early Childhood promotes and encourages child care in licensed facilities that contribute to the safety, health, protection and well-being of children.
Search Online or Call a Referral Agency
- Colorado Shines is a free online search tool for parents looking for child care facilities or preschools in their community.
- For free referral and education services, call 1-877-338-CARE (2273).
- Find quality care in your community.
Review the Licensing History of Child Care Facilities
- The Colorado Child Care Facility Search provides reports of inspection to help inform parents and caregivers as they select a child care facility.
Find a New Provider Accepting Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP)
- If you are currently utilizing CCCAP, contact your county department of human/social services to arrange child care with a new provider accepting CCCAP.
File a Complaint and Report Violations
- Call 911 immediately if you witness a child in a life-threatening situation.
- Call 1-844-CO-4-Kids or 1-844-264-5437 to report all concerns of child abuse and neglect.
- Call 303-866-5958 to file a complaint with the Division of Early Care and Learning.