Stringency Appeals and Waiver Requests

  • About Stringency Appeals and Waivers

    Child care licensing rules and regulations are the minimum acceptable health, safety, and program requirements licensed child care providers must follow to operate legally. 

    The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) (referred to as “the Department”) is approved, per C.R.S. § 26-6-106 (3), to:

    • Consider appeals from current licensed child care providers claiming that licensing specialist applied the child care licensing rules too stringently (too strictly), improperly, or unfairly (e.g., stringency appeal); OR
    • ​Consider requests to temporarily waive compliance with child care licensing rules, (not regulations or law), that, you, the child care license applicant or licensed provider, believe create undue hardship for you, a child and/or family, or the community (e.g., emergency, general hardship and materials waivers).

    The Department cannot, however, in any circumstance, waive compliance with ANY issue addressed by federal regulations and/or the Child Care Licensing Act (C.R.S. § 26-6-101) (state statute/law). This includes CBI or FBI background checks, immunization requirements and ages of children in care.

    It is NEVER acceptable to operate out of compliance with ANY child care licensing rule even if you submitted an appeal or waiver request to the Department (i.e., submitting any stringency appeal or waiver request DOES NOT grant initial approval). 

    You MUST maintain compliance with all child care licensing rules and regulations that pertain to the specific type of child care license for which you are currently approved unless you have received an official waiver approval notification from the Department. 

    If it is determined that you knowingly and willingly operate out of compliance with any licensing rule or regulation that pertains to the type of child care license for which you are currently approved, you are subject to additional citation and possible adverse action.

  • Stringency Appeals

    You have the right, per C.R.S. § 26-6-106 (3), to submit a stringency appeal with the Department if you believe a licensing specialist applied licensing rules too stringently (too strictly), improperly, or unfairly.

    By submitting a stringency appeal, you are saying that you did not violate any licensing rule or regulation. As such, it is your responsibility to provide evidence that proves your claim that the licensing specialist applied a licensing rule too stringently (too strictly), improperly, or unfairly. 

    Stringency appeals are reactionary and only considered for violations documented on an official Report of Inspection (also called an ROI) received during a licensing inspection that occurred within the most recent 60 calendar days.

  • Waiver Requests

    Waiver requests are proactive requests to temporarily waive compliance with licensing rules (e.g., you can submit waiver requests PRIOR to being licensed once you’ve submitted an application for a child care license, even if you are not yet open for business). 

    Official notice of approval from the Department is required before you implement the practice described in your request.

    You are subject to citation and possible adverse action if you knowingly and willingly operate in violation of any licensing rule or regulation.

    If the conditions created by an approved waiver are determined to be the cause of any founded complaints, accidents, or injuries that occur during the approved waiver period, the Department will immediately rescind (revoke) the waiver and consider it null and void.

    There are three (3) general categories of waivers: emergency waivers, materials waivers, and general hardship waivers.

    Emergency Waivers

    • Emergency waivers are appropriate when unusual situations, emergencies, or other significant, unexpected events prohibit you from operating normally and/or when unforeseen circumstances, beyond your control, negatively impact the health, safety and/or well-being of any children in your care. 
    • Specific situations that may be considered appropriate for an emergency waiver include, but are not limited to:
      • Natural disasters such as fires, floods, tornados, falling trees, or roof collapse due to snow;
      • Infectious disease outbreaks such as influenza, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, bronchitis, etc.;
      • Mold outbreaks;
      • Acts of nature or accidents resulting in structural damage to a child care facility; or 
      • Situations requiring immediate, emergency placement to protect the health and/or safety of a child, or children. Visit the Child Welfare Placement Services website for more information.
    • If you are unsure if your situation is considered an emergency, please contact the specific licensing specialist assigned to your facility OR the Office of Early Childhood at 1-800-799-5876.
    • Submit emergency waiver requests to the Department immediately following the occurrence of the emergency, preferably within 24 hours, when possible.
    • Emergency waivers remain in effect until the emergency is over or, for a maximum of six (6) months, whichever is less.
    • You can submit an extension request (for up to an additional six months) if you need additional time to come into compliance with child care licensing rules.
    • Please refer to the “Emergency Waiver Submission Guide” for specific submission guidance and instructions. 

    Materials Waivers

    • The Department is approved (per C.R.S. 26-6-105.7) to approve waivers to allow accredited and/or verified progressive, alternative, early childhood education programs to use two otherwise prohibited categories of materials referred to in child care licensing rules (7.702.62 and 7.707.922) as choking hazards (i.e., “chokeables”) and laceration hazards (i.e., “breakables”).
    • The Department will only approve waivers to use these materials for early childhood education programs that adequately demonstrate that using the materials is necessary to implement key components of an accredited and/or verified progressive, alternative, educational curriculum.
    • You can submit requests for materials waiver any time after submitting your application for a childcare license. This means that you can submit materials waivers requests pre-emptively (i.e., before opening for business) if you wish to have the waiver(s) in place on the day you open for business.
    • Separate requests are required for each rule. For example, if you want to use both chokeables (7.702.62 (F)) and breakables (7.702.62 (G) in your program, you will need to submit two separate waiver requests.
    • You must submit your materials waiver request at least 60 calendar days before you plan to use the material (s) described in your request.
    • Materials waivers are valid for a maximum of five (5) years, or until the date listed on the Decision Notification. If an expiration date is not provided in the official Decision Notification you received from the Department, the waiver expires five years from the date of the notice. 
    • If you wish to extend your waiver approval, it is your responsibility to submit a renewal request at least 90 calendar days prior to its expiration date.
    • Please refer to the “Materials Waiver Submission Guide” for specific submission guidance and instructions. 

    General Hardship Waivers

    • General hardship waivers temporarily waive compliance with child care licensing rules to help increase the availability, accessibility, and quality of child care services. 
    • General hardship waivers are approved when the majority of the panel members feel you provided enough evidence to prove that operating in compliance with a specific child care licensing rule creates substantial, unnecessary burden or difficulty (i.e., undue hardship) for you (the applicant/provider), your business, a child and/or family, or the community.
    • You must submit general hardship waiver requests at least 60 calendar days before you plan to implement the practice described in your request.
    • These requests must be child and/or situation specific. Blanket waivers (i.e., indefinite waivers that apply to broad or general situations) are not considered.
    • Separate requests are required for each rule you are requesting to waive compliance. For example, if you want to use both chokeables (7.702.62 (F)) and breakables (7.702.62 (G) in your program, you will need to submit two separate waiver requests.
    • General hardship waivers are valid for a maximum of three (3) years, or until the date listed on the official Decision Notification. If an expiration date is not provided in the official Decision Notification you received from the Department, the waiver expires three years from the date of the notice. 
    • If you wish you extend your waiver approval, it is your responsibility to submit a renewal request at least 90 calendar days prior to its expiration date.
    • Please refer to the “General Hardship Waiver Submission Guide” for specific submission guidance and instructions. 
  • The Review Process

    Processing Timeline

    • A panel of persons appointed by the Executive Director of the Department reviews all requests (except requests for emergency waivers) on the fourth Monday of each month, in most cases. Holiday dates may change the meeting date for some months.
    • Emergency waiver requests are reviewed administratively (by Department management), within three business days.
    • Panel meetings are not open to the public and verbal testimony is not permitted.
    • Panel members review the information you submit and evaluate the specific circumstances of each request on a case-by-case basis. 
    • The information needed for panel members to adequately evaluate the request varies depending on the nature of each request. Please refer to the appropriate “Submission Guide” for information specific to your type of request. You may also find it helpful to contact the licensing specialist assigned to your facility prior to submitting the request to determine what information is appropriate.
    • You will receive a notification, in writing, from the Department with the panel decision within 10 calendar days of the monthly panel meeting. 
    • Expect to receive a decision for an original request within 45 - 60 calendar days from the date that the Department receives all required materials. 
    • If your request is denied for additional information, or you submitted a reconsideration request, you can expect to receive a written decision from the Department within 30 calendar days from the date the Department receives the new information.
    • If you do not receive a decision for an original request within 60 calendar days, please contact the Child Care Licensing Appeal and Waiver Coordinator via email at childcare_appeals@state.co.us or by phone at 1-800-799-5876.

    Evaluation Criteria

    • When reviewing requests, the panel members consider the following, at a minimum:
    • Is there enough evidence to prove that:
    • A licensing specialist applied a licensing rule too stringently (too strictly), improperly, or unfairly (stringency appeal)?
    • An unusual situation, emergency, or other significant, unexpected event prohibits the provider from operating normally;
    • Unforeseen circumstances, beyond the provider’s control, negatively impacts the health, safety and/or well-being of any children in their care; or
    • Operating in compliance with a specific licensing rule creates substantial, unnecessary burden or difficulty (i.e., undue hardship) for the applicant/provider, their business, a child and/or family, or the community?
    • Did the applicant/provider knowingly and willingly operate in violation of child care licensing rules?
    • Could approving the waiver negatively impact the health, safety, and/or well-being of any children in care?
    • Are there any safety violations on the most recent Report of Inspection? If so, are there any trends that are cause for concern?
    • Does the proposed “Alternative Plan for Compliance” meet the intent of the original child care licensing rule for which the provider wishes to waive compliance?
    • What, if any, additional requirements are needed to ensure the intent of the original child care licensing rule is still met?
    • Are there any concerns that the other child care licensing rules and/or regulations will not be met?
    • Does approving the waiver impact compliance with any health and/or safety standards?
    • Is the provider currently operating in compliance with food, health, safety, and sanitation standards, as well as fire and zoning rules?

    Denials

    • If your stringency appeal or waiver request is denied, it means that the panel members felt that you did not provide enough evidence support your request or that approving your request could potentially have a negative impact on the health, safety and/or well-being of any child, or children, in your care.
    • In some cases, your stringency appeal may be denied, but the unique circumstances of your situation may require that you submit a separate request to temporarily waive compliance with the licensing rule, or rules for which you were cited. Submitting the request does not, however, guarantee approval.
    • If denied, you may submit a reconsideration request with additional information that you did not include in the original request for the panel to review. You must submit the reconsideration request on the approved Stringency Appeal and Waiver Request form within 30 calendar days of receiving the official Decision Notification. 
    • If your reconsideration request is denied, you may you may choose to exercise your due process rights and request a formal hearing with the Attorney General's office per C.R.S. 24-4-105. The Department must receive this request in writing within 30 calendar days of receiving the official notification that your reconsideration request was denied.

    Approvals

    • Stringency appeals and waiver requests are approved if panel members feel you provided enough evidence to support your request.
    • If a stringency appeal is approved, the Department may add a note to the ROI describing the approval, or remove the violation from the ROI altogether.
    • All waiver approvals are time-limited (i.e., temporary). 
    • The Decision Notification for waiver approvals must be posted next to your child care license until the waiver expires (listed on the notification). If you are not sure when your waiver expires, contact the Child Care Licensing Appeal and Waiver Coordinator via email at childcare_appeals@state.co.us or by phone at 1-800-799-5876.
    • Waiver approvals are often accompanied by approval conditions. These conditions are noted in the Decision Notification.
    • Waiver approvals are conditional upon compliance with the approved “Alternative Plan for Compliance.” 
    • Your licensing specialist will review the waiver conditions and the alternative plan for compliance each year at your annual licensing visit.
    • Noncompliance with the waiver conditions or the approved alternative plan constitutes the violation of child care licensing rule and may be the basis for revoking the waiver.
    • If you wish to renew a waiver, you must submit your request to the Department at least 90 calendar days prior to the expiration date.
    • If the conditions created by an approved waiver are determined to be the cause of any founded complaints, accidents, or injuries that occur during the approved waiver period, the Department will immediately rescind (revoke) the waiver and consider it null and void.
  • Submitting a Stringency Appeal or Waiver Request

    Stringency Appeal and Waiver Request Form

    • You must submit your stringency appeal or waiver request on the approved Stringency Appeal and Waiver Request form.
    • Because no two child care programs are identical, separate requests are required for each separate license number and/or physical location. This includes licenses shared by the same governing body, even if the issues are identical (i.e., blanket waivers are not approved for multiple physical locations). 
    • You must also submit separate requests for each licensing rule for which you are requesting to waive compliance.

    Report of Inspection (ROI)

    • Requests must include a copy of the most recent Report of Inspection. 
    • Stringency Appeals: Include a copy of the ROI listing the violation you believe you received because a licensing specialists applied licensing rules too stringently (too strictly), improperly, or unfairly.
    • Waiver Requests: Include the most recent copy of the Supervisory Report of Inspection (ROI). The most recent supervisory ROI would not be required only if:
      • You submitted an application for a child care license to the Colorado Department of Human Services but the child care license has not yet been issued; or
      • You were issued a license to operate as a child care provider by the Colorado Department of Human Services but you have not yet had a supervisory licensing inspection (in which case you would need to submit the original ROI).
    • Additional ROI’s may also be required depending on the nature of the request.

    Substantiating Evidence

    • It is your responsibility to provide enough evidence to adequately prove:
      • A licensing specialist applied a specific licensing rule too stringently (too strictly), improperly, or unfairly (e.g., stringency appeal); or
      • Operating in compliance with a specific licensing rule creates substantial, unnecessary burden or difficulty (i.e., undue hardship) for you (the provider), your business, a child and/or family, or the community.
    • The information needed to adequately evaluate the request varies depending on the nature of the request. 
    • Evidence could include but is not limited to, staff training records, pictures, health/fire inspection reports, and/or letters/correspondence from parents or the community written in support of the request.

    Alternative Plan for Compliance (Waiver Requests Only)

    • An “Alternative Plan for Compliance” is required for all waiver requests. The plan must specifically:
      • Explain how you will meet the underlying objective or intent of the specified licensing rule for which you are requesting a waiver; and
      • Describe how the alternate plan will be implemented, specifically addressing how you will protect the health, safety, and well-being of all children in your care throughout the approved waiver period.
    • Please refer to the appropriate “Submission Guide” for information specific to your type of request. You may also find it helpful to contact the licensing specialist assigned to your facility prior to submitting the request to determine what information is appropriate.
  • Request-Specific Submission Guides

    Stringency Appeal and Waiver Request Overview

    Stringency Appeals [IN PROGRESS]

    Emergency Waivers [IN PROGRESS]

    Materials Waivers [IN PROGRESS]

    General Hardship Waivers [IN PROGRESS]

    • Capacity, Staffing and Supervision Waivers [IN PROGRESS]
    • Staff Qualifications and Training Waivers [IN PROGRESS]
    • Physical Space and Structure Waivers [IN PROGRESS]
    • Medical/Therapeutic Waivers [IN PROGRESS]
    • School District Specific Waivers [IN PROGRESS]

Questions? Contact the Child Care Licensing & Administration Unit:

Child Care Licensing Appeals and Waiver Requests
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
childcare_appeals@state.co.us