Quality Initiatives

What is Colorado Shines?

Colorado Shines is a quality rating and improvement system for all of Colorado’s licensed early learning programs serving children birth to 5. It encourages and supports programs to improve their quality and to connect with families looking for quality care for their children.

The Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System honors those programs that choose accreditation for meeting their quality goals. Colorado Shines works directly with accrediting bodies that submit an application for crosswalk recognition.

Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance support the local delivery supports for the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System by helping programs to increase or maintain quality through the implementation of quality improvement programs. This includes program level support from Quality Improvement Navigators and Coaches. Quality funds are allocated based on program type (center/home), number of classrooms, and program quality level. These stipends support the provision of coaching to include in-person, intensive support offered by subject matter experts to enhance particular aspects of quality; non-consumable materials for the child care learning environment; or to compensate for professional development (qualifying Early Childhood Education college coursework, conferences or trainings). 

Click on the QI Incentives on the Quality Improvement page of your program profile to learn more about the Early Childhood Council and quality improvement supports available to you.

How does it work?

Colorado Shines is flexible and customizable. Programs can apply to be evaluated for quality ratings—and receive support—regardless of educational philosophy, and can improve quality at a pace that works for each program.​

Early learning programs are rated through Colorado Shines on a scale of one to five, one qualifying as a basic program, and five qualifying as an exceptional program:

  • Level 1: Your program is currently licensed with the State of Colorado.
  • Level 2: Your program is licensed, in good standing, and:
    • Has a quality improvement plan in place
    • Has finished the L2 Quality Indicator Program Assessment
    • Has registered staff in the Colorado Shines Professional Development Information System (PDIS)
    • Has completed the required number of E-Learning course hours for Level 2
  • Levels 3-5: Your program is licensed, in good standing, and:
    • Has completed all of requirements listed in Level 2
    • Has been assessed and rated by a Colorado Shines Quality Ratings Assessor

What is a Colorado Shines Quality Ratings Assessor?

A Quality Ratings Assessor will evaluate ratings at levels three through five and offer points within five categories: workforce qualifications, family partnerships, administration, learning environment, and child health. 

Online tools to help you get started

We have created two online tools to support your program through the quality journey.

Visit the Colorado Shines program resources and FAQ pages to find additional information to guide you through the process.

Questions? Need additional information?

Contact the Colorado Shines Help Desk at 844-447-4441 or cdec_coshines@state.co.us.

The Colorado Early Learning and Development Guidelines describe the path of children's learning and development from birth to eight years old.

They are designed so that everyone who cares for young children can play an important part in giving Colorado's children a strong start. The guidelines are based on research and bring together widely accepted strategies to help children develop successfully.

Experts from across Colorado have woven together their knowledge about these important years. As a result, the guidelines are aligned with and help connect existing programs to create a coordinated approach to learning and development. These guidelines are incorporated across all early learning system elements. View the Guidelines in English or Spanish.

The Expanding Quality in Infant Toddler (EQ) Initiative is a collaborative effort between the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Early Childhood. The primary goal of the EQ Initiative is to increase the quality and availability of responsive care for infants and toddlers throughout Colorado by:

  • Strengthening the skills and knowledge base of Early Childhood professionals working with infants and toddlers
  • Building capacity and promoting systemic change to foster increased quality and availability of care and services
  • Supporting leadership and collaboration at the community level
  • Facilitating professional development for infant toddler professionals, particularly those who are teaching or coaching infant toddler teachers​

Learn more about the EQ Initiative.

One key element of the EQ Initiative is offering the Expanding Quality in Infant Toddler Care (EQIT) training course to providers. View the list of contacts to find a course in your community. Learn more about EQIT courses and how to register

Health, safety and wellness are essential elements of high-quality early care and education. Children spend the majority of their days in early care and education, and families rely on the professionals who care for their children to also ensure their children’s well-being.
Healthy Child Care Colorado makes sure that early childhood programs have the resources and skills they need to promote health and safety in their child care centers. These programs include:

  • Support for Child Care Health Consultants (CCHC), such as Medication Administration Train the Trainer, Competencies for CCHC, and resources;
  • Information on healthy eating and active play; and
  • Professional development resources.

Learn more about Healthy Child Care Colorado.