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Child Care Resources
Child Care Resource Referral Program

Child Care Resources

Looking for Child Care or Preschool

Choosing child care or preschool for your young child should be a positive experience for your family. Always remember that selecting a child care or early education program is an important decision that strikes a balance between your needs as a busy parent and the developmental needs of your child.

Our partner agency Colorado Shines Child Care Referral at Mile High United Way provides a customized list of referrals to licensed child care providers that are in alignment with the family’s needs and in the area of the family’s request. The referral includes consumer education materials about how to recognize and select quality care. This free service is available to anyone seeking child care anywhere in Colorado.

Free Child Care Search and Consultation

To obtain a free list of licensed child care, preschool or school age options in your community please contact a Child Care Navigator Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Dial 1-877-338-CARE (2273), email at, or chat live online or text ChildCareReferral to 898-211.

To search for child care providers online or to get more information about how to identify quality child care please visit Colorado Shines.

Search Tips:

  1. Click on “For Families” then “Search for a Program”.
  2. Enter your home or work address or just the city where you are looking for care.

When a complete list appears use the filters to narrow your search.

Things to keep in mind when looking for child care

  1. Start as Early as Possible – Finding the right child care for you and your child is a process. It takes time to make calls and set up visits and then to be offered an opening in a program that is a “good fit” for your family. If you can start looking 6-8 months in advance you have a good chance at finding an opening in the child care program you want. For infants and toddlers starting even earlier is advised as demand is high and supply is low.
  2. Educate & Call – Remember it is important to be an educated consumer when examining your child care options. The steps to finding quality care in your community will walk you through the things you need to know to make an informed decision and find a child care program that is a “good fit” for you and your child.
  3. Ask Questions – Once you have obtained a list of child care providers from the Colorado Shines Child Care Referral it’s time to start the interview process. Call providers in your area to narrow down your options. If providers are full, ask if they keep a wait list and if there is a fee to be placed on the wait list. It is recommended if you find a program that you like to go on the wait list. This way you may be offered a spot when an opening to occurs.
  4. What is the Colorado Shines Rating? Quality rating is a system to help parents identify high quality child care programs. To learn more about the Colorado Shines Rating please see the Give Your Child a Strong Start With Colorado Shines document.
  5. Schedule a Visit – After you have narrowed your choices, visit several child care facilities or family child care programs. Meet with the home child care provider or center director and tour the facility. Remember, programs can vary greatly from one another, the more programs you visit, the better perspective you will have on what is best for your child and your family. Reference [Colorado Adult to Child Ratios] for information about maximum group size and adult child ratios allowed by Colorado State law.
  6. Investigate – We highly encourage you to ask for and to check references. Never leave your child in any center or home if you are told that parents are not welcome to drop in at any time, unannounced. Never leave your child anywhere without having spent some time with the prospective child care provider. While you are there ask to see the most recent “Report of Inspection”. This should be posted in a visible place for parents to review.
  7. Check the licensing information – Before making a final decision or signing a contract review licensing records on the providers you are considering. Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Early Childhood provides access to these records that includes licensed capacity by age, licensing inspection history, information about past complaints or investigations and any restrictions to the license. Click for Child Care Look Up.Many providers have few if any complaints or violations however, if you find something that concerns you a more detailed report may be requested specific to a given complaint number or inspection date. To request these licensing reports, first write down the complaint number/s or the licensing inspection date/s you want to investigate, then “Save” the Summary Report. Under “Saved Provider Summaries” click “Continue” then “Continue” again. From this screen you will be able to request the full “Report of Inspection” about specific complaints or inspections. Fill out the File Review Request form and submit. It may take a few weeks to receive the requested file/s by email. Another way to obtain provider files is to call 303-866-6029 or send an email to
  8. Enroll – Once you have chosen a program you will need to provide the enrollment paperwork and forms before your child can begin attending. The provider should walk you through this process. If you haven’t already done so, arrange to take your child for a visit before you leave him or her for care. This will make for a happier first day for everyone.
  9. Stay Involved – Once your child is enrolled in the program of your choice, it is important to stay involved. You now need to become a partner with your child’s teacher or provider. Make it a habit to communicate on a regular basis. Find out how your child is doing during the day, what they are learning about and how you can continue that learning process at home. Be sure to share information about your child to help the teacher or care giver better understand him or her. Remember you are the expert on your child.

Is working with children your calling? Do you like to help parents of young children? Would you like to start a small business and earn an income while staying at home with your own children? Are you ready to make a commitment to provide the high quality child care that is critical to a child’s growth and development? If you answered yes then Boulder County’s children and families need you!

In Colorado, you are required to be licensed to care for children in your home if you care for children from two or more unrelated families or more then four unrelated children at the same time. Although there are different types of licenses, most providers start with a Standard license which allows for the care of six children under the age of 5 years, plus two school-age children kindergarten to 12 years. Your own children, under the age of 12, are included in these numbers.

Taking care of children in your licensed family child care home provides you with the opportunity to have a positive impact on the health and development of children and help them to become caring, responsible, successful adults. You offer young parents the security of knowing their children are in good hands. All while enjoying the satisfaction of having your own small business.

The Boulder County Child Care Resource & Referral program provides training, technical assistance and ongoing support to people who are interested in obtaining a family child care license in Boulder County. To obtain an information packet or information about the next Pre-licensing training series call 303-441-3544 or send an email to

Visit the Colorado Office of Early Childhood website for additional information

File a Complaint with the Division of Early Care and Learning

Call 911 immediately if you witness a child in a life-threatening situation.

To file a complaint about a licensed or unlicensed child care provider or program 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.

To Report Child Abuse or Neglect – 24/7 Hotline

Call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (844-264-5437)

To report Suspected Unlicensed Child Care call 303-866-5958

To 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


The first step in obtaining assistance is applying with the Boulder County Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), a statewide program. Visit for information on program administration within Boulder County.

City of Boulder CLIFF Program

The City of Boulder administers the CLIFF Child Care Subsidy program for City of Boulder residents. The program is designed to provide child care cost assistance for families that do not qualify for Boulder County CCAP. For eligibility information or to apply please visit CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES. For further information please contact Melinda Barnes at 303-441-4345 or

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