Colorado is a fast growing state with a highly educated population and low unemployment. Since many families have double income working parents, there is an ever present niche for in-home daycare. Starting a daycare may be a home-based business option for stay-at-home parents who want to remain home with their children, provide a much needed service and generate income. Knowledge of home daycare laws is essential for the provider's and parent's peace of mind and the welfare of the children.
An in-home daycare in Colorado must be licensed by law when care is provided to two or more unrelated children at any one time. The laws are in place to ensure a safe, nurturing environment for the children, and to give parents legal recourse and the backing of the state if any harm should come to their child. Licensing also requires that the home daycare operator pay all city, county and state fees and taxes.
While the most common type of in-home daycare license is a Standard Child Care Home license, there are three other types, according to the Colorado Department of Human Services. A Standard Child Care Home License allows for a maximum of six children, with no more than two under age 2, plus two children before or after school for a total of 8. An Infant/Toddler License allows a maximum of four children age 0 to 36 months. A Large Child Care Home License is for a daycare with a maximum of 12 children age 2 years and older, while the Three Under Two License is for a provider with a maximum of six children, no more than three of whom can be under age 2.
As part of the licensing process, the applicant and all persons over the age of 18 living in the home must agree to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation criminal background check if they have been a Colorado resident for 2 years or more, or an FBI check if they have resided in Colorado for less than 2 years. No person over the age of 18 living in the house may be judged criminally insane or mentally incompetent by any court.
All people in the home, of any age, must have a medical statement of good health signed within the 6 months preceding the license application.
One adult over the age of 18 can care for no more than six children at any given time, including children who reside in the home. No more than two of these children can be under the age of 2 without an additional adult caretaker in attendance.
The childcare provider must take between 15 and 90 hours of child care training, depending on the type of license applied for, as well as 9 hours of training a year to retain the license. Additionally, she must hold a current certificate in First Aid and CPR.
The state may come in and inspect the in-home daycare premises without notice during business hours. The minimum per-child space requirements are 35 square feet of indoor play area and 75 square feet of fenced, outdoor play area. There must be a working telephone, fire extinguisher and smoke alarm on every level of the home, and if the basement is used, it must have more than one exit door. A separate space for children who are sick must be provided, and shared cups and towels are not allowed, to reduce the chance of illness.
Additional requirements under Colorado law cover nutrition, discipline and transportation. While there are no specific requirements for types of food served, children kept all day must have a morning and afternoon snack as well as a midday meal. No form of physical or verbal punishment or discipline is permitted, including withholding meals. Timeouts are allowable, and all permitted disciplinary techniques must be discussed with the child's parents. Transportation to and from school, activities or for doctor visits should be in a safe, insured vehicle with child seats and restraints as mandated by Colorado law.
To run an in-home daycare in Colorado, not only will you have to comply with state regulations, you will need to provide a stimulating and safe environment for the children in your care. Make sure you have cabinet and fridge locks, baby gates and playpens to childproof your home. Choose a variety of age-appropriate toys, books and games for the children, and always make sure you have a basic first aid kit and plenty of nontoxic cleaning supplies on hand.