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.

    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

    Any organization or individual that may be eligible for a child care license, but is requesting to be declared exempt from the requirement to be licensed, must download, fill-out and submit a Legal Exemption Child Care Application. ​

    All fields on the application must be complete including:

    • The name and address of the facility
    • The email address and telephone number of the facility
    • The number of children in care and their ages
    • The hours and days of operation
    • A basic description of the program
    • The philosophy or mission statement of the program
    • A copy of the promotional material used to advertise the program
    • Verification that the facility is in compliance with the local zoning department
    • Verification that the facility is in compliance with local business, fire and health department requirements

    Email your written exemption request to

    You may also mail the written exemption request to:

    Attn: Child Care Licensing Exemptions
    Child Care Licensing and Administration
    Division of Early Care and Learning, CDHS
    1575 Sherman Street, 1st Floor
    Denver, CO 80203​

    Approval Process

    Decisions of the Division of Early Care and Learning regarding exemptions are final and cannot be reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge. All final decisions are effective and binding three days after the date of the written notice, even if the third day falls on a weekend or legal holiday. ​

    The party requesting the exemption can apply for judicial review of the decision by filing an action in District Court. The action must be filed in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure for courts of record in Colorado within 30 days after the decision has become effective.​

Questions? Contact the Child Care Licensing & Administration Unit:

Child Care Licensing and Administration
Division of Early Care and Learning, CDHS
1575 Sherman Street, 1st Floor
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 1-800-799-5876 or 303-866-5948
Fax: 303-866-4453