Colorado Resource & Referral Network
Step One: Get “The List.” There are a lot of options out there, often times more than parents think. Your first step is to get a list of all the Licensed Child Care Programs in your preferred area. You can now get this list easily online by visiting www.coloradoshines.com – click on “Find a Program” then enter your zip code and press enter. Refine your search using the filter features on the left. Or you can call 877-338-2273 to talk to a child care referral specialist.
Step Two: Narrow Down The Options. You can do this by exploring a child care program’s website (if they have one), or calling them up and asking a few basic questions. Look at the operating hours (is it a year-round or school-year program?), the ages accepted and any other personal preferences you might have, until you have identified several programs that you want to pursue.
Step Three: Call And Schedule A Visit. We highly recommend visiting a program before you commit. Schedule a time to go in and get a feel for it, ask more questions and meet the Director. Trust your gut feeling when deciding if the program will be a good fit for your child, and you!
Step Four: Enroll! Or get on the wait-list. Depending on how soon you need child care, you might have to get on multiple wait-lists.
What is the difference between a licensed and un-licensed program? A licensed program is registered with the State of Colorado, and adheres to the many health & safety regulations set in place to protect the children in the program. All staff at a licensed program have to meet certain qualification standards and are visited regularly by licensing specialist.
How can I tell if a program is licensed? All licensed programs are required to display their licensing number on-site. If you don’t see one, ask the Director if the program is licensed. Beware of programs faking a license, you can always use this Department of Human Services Search to check and see if a program holds a license, and look up a program’s license history (including complaints, infractions, etc.).
What kinds of questions do I ask a program? Use this helpful Interview-Guide when visiting or calling programs.
What do those five little diamonds mean that are next to each program on the list? Colorado has created a state-wide Child Care Quality Rating System, called “Colorado Shines.” In this system there are five levels of quality, and the diamonds show you which level a program has earned. It is important to note that this rating system is entirely voluntarily, and that every licensed program automatically starts at a Level 1. If you’re worried about a program you like being a Level 1, it’s possible that they are a quality program but have opted to not get “rated” for various reasons (sometimes demand in rural areas is so high that programs do not need to rate in order to get customers). You can determine whether a program is high quality based on your feeling when you visit and these 8 Child Care Quality Indicators.