State expands legal child care options for families

RBC | Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed into law a bill that creates new licensing exemptions for home-based child care providers and expands child care options for families across Colorado. Senate Bill 17-110 increases the number of unrelated children a home-based caregiver can watch without obtaining a child care license from the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS).
Previously, anyone caring for more than one sibling group unrelated to the care provider had to obtain a license. Senate Bill 110 expands the number of unrelated children a home-based caregiver can watch without obtaining a license to four. Under the new law, no more than two of the four children may be younger than 2. The law will likely take effect on Aug. 9, or 90 days after the end of the legislative session. It will expire Sept. 1, 2020.
CDHS estimates 55 percent of Colorado children younger than age 5 currently receive care outside of licensed facilities. Some of the options frequently used by families, such as nanny sharing or relying on a friend, family member or neighbor to provide care, may not have been legal under the old statute.
“Senate Bill 110 is common-sense legislation that expands legal child care options for families while keeping the safety of children in mind,” said Erin Mewhinney, Division of Early Care and Learning Director at CDHS. “This legislation also highlights the importance of educating families about the differences between licensed, legally exempt and illegal child care options. We encourage families to seek quality child care programs that support the health, safety and growth of their children.”
Senate Bill 110 also helps the child care provider community. The legislation reduces licensing requirements for small home-based providers, and it allows providers who were previously operating illegally to now be connected to community resources, such as training and quality improvement supports, to improve their child care services. Additionally, home-based child care providers legally exempt from child care licensing may be eligible to accept Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) child care subsidy payments by participating in a background check and yearly health and safety inspections. This expands options for low-income families seeking child care.
Families searching for child care have several tools available. provides a free, online search tool for licensed, quality child care programs. Families may also call the statewide child care resource and referral hotline at 877-338-2273. If families are concerned about the care provided for their children, or suspect a child care facility is operating illegally, they are advised to contact the Colorado Office of Early Childhood at 303-866-5958 to file a report.
For more information about child care licensing and administration, visit