Legal Exemption from Child Care Licensing

Legally Exempt Child Care Facilities

Colorado’s Child Care Licensing Act allows certain child care facilities to be exempt from licensing requirements. Determine if a child care license is needed by using this flow chart. Child care facilities that wish to participate in the Colorado Universal Preschool Program must be licensed. 

A child care license is not required for:

  • A special school or class in religious instruction. Religious instruction is defined as instruction in religion as a subject of general education, or instruction in the principles of a particular religious faith. Faith- or spiritually-based programs which offer religious instruction combined with early childhood education, child care or child development activities as a part of the daily routine must obtain a child care license.
  • A special school or class operated for a single skill-building purpose. Single skill building includes activities or instruction in one subject area. A single skill program includes the development of an individual skill which does not include naptime periods or overnight care, or any other time children are not engaged in that specific activity. Any time activities other than the identified single skill are provided; the program is no longer considered a single skill program and must obtain the appropriate license. Meals and snacks may be incorporated into the single skill request.
  • ​A child care center operated in connection with and on the premises of a church, shopping center, or business where children are cared for during short periods of time (no more than 3 hours in a 24-hour period). Only children of parents or guardians who are attending a church activity, patronizing the business or shopping center, or working at the church, shopping center or business can be cared for in the center.
  • Occasional, infrequent and irregular care of children that has no apparent pattern.
  • A family care home where less than 24-hour care is provided 
    • for four (4) or fewer children ages birth to 18 years old and no more than two (2) of the children are under the age of two (2) years old. The children are not required to be related to each other or to the caregiver. Note: If the provider is caring for their own child(ren), their child(ren) is included in the four (4) children limit. 
    • for children who are directly related to the caregiver.
    • the children are siblings from one (1) family, and may or may not be related to the caregiver. 
  • A child care facility that is approved, certified or licensed by any other state or federal department or agency, which has standards for operation of the facility and inspects or monitors the facility.
  • The medical care of children in nursing homes.
  • Guest child care facilities: Public Services short-term child care facilities as defined in Colorado Revised Statutes 26-6-102(5) and 26-6-103.5.
Request a Legal Exemption from Child Care Licensing

As of February 1, 2020, the Department of Early Childhood, Division of Early Care and Learning, will no longer be accepting Legal Exemption Applications.

You may still operate as an exempt child care facility as long as you meet the criteria for exemption, but, you no longer need to submit an application nor do you need a declaration letter. 

If you do not meet the requirements to operate your program or facility without a child care license, please visit the Child Care Licensing and Administration webpage to learn about the licensing process. You may also contact our office at 303-866-5948 or 1-800-799-5876. 

For further information regarding exemptions please refer to Colorado Revised Statute 26-6-103. 

Questions? Contact the Child Care Licensing & Administration Unit:

Child Care Licensing and Administration
Division of Early Care and Learning, CDEC
710 S. Ash Street
Denver, CO 80246
Phone: 1-800-799-5876 or 303-866-5948
Fax: 303-866-4453