CDHS releases recommendations of the Safe Child Care Task Force

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DENVER (Nov. 17, 2021) — Today, the Colorado Department of Human Services' Office of Early Childhood released a report that includes nine recommendations to help keep children safe while they are in child care settings — both licensed child care facilities as well as with caregivers who are family, friends or neighbors. The report, titled “Safe and Nurturing Care For Every Colorado Child: Report from the Safe Child Care Task Force,” comes on the heels of Infant Safe Sleep Awareness Month in Colorado, as proclaimed by Gov. Jared Polis.

The Safe Child Care Task Force was formed during the summer of 2021 in response to the tragic deaths of infants in unsafe, overcrowded, unlicensed child care settings. The task force included 20 members with diverse ties to early childhood, and also had broad community participation. Task force members and participants included nonprofits, state and local government, law enforcement, child welfare, parents, and child care providers, both licensed and family, friend and neighbor.

“Keeping children safe in all types of child care settings is a priority,” said Michelle Barnes, director of the Colorado Department of Human Services. “We are already moving forward work that supports families and child care providers, so providers have the resources they need, and families can be confident that whatever setting they choose, whether it’s a licensed child care center or licensed family child care home, or a family, friend and neighbor provider, their child will be safe.”

The report recommendations cover three strategies:

  1. Increase awareness about safe child care — both families and child care providers need clear, understandable information about what safe child care looks like, what child care requires a license, and what child care is exempt from licensing requirements. The recommendations seek to create resources that support education for families and child care providers. 
  2. Engage communities to keep children safe — we all have a role to play to keep children safe, and there are many individuals who interact with families and young children. The recommendations seek to engage first responders (including healthcare, police and others) who may encounter safe or unsafe child care environments. These recommendations also seek to review the systems that are involved in the event of a tragedy, and provide support to family, friend and neighbor care providers.
  3. Examine procedures, structures, rules and regulations that impact the child care sector — current laws in Colorado dictate the enforcement of child care licensing requirements. The recommendations seek to review these laws in instances where clarity is needed. Additionally, the report recommends the creation of a unit in the Office of Early Childhood, separate from child care licensing, that is focused on supporting family, friend and neighbor providers and enforcing the regulations of licensure. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the child care crisis in Colorado and across the country. Many parents are desperate to find safe child care that is also affordable and meets the needs of their family. The recommendations of the Safe Child Care Task Force, together with the strategies the Office is Early Childhood is undertaking using state and federal stimulus funding, will help increase access to child care, support diverse child care providers, and give families confidence when searching for and selecting care. 
“This work would not have been possible without the engagement of the members of the task force, and all of the community members who joined us for truly dynamic conversations. I am so grateful for their work,” said Mary Alice Cohen, director of the Office of Early Childhood. “We are seeing historic investments in early childhood right now, and the recommendations in this report are such an important part of ensuring the care that families access is safe and nurturing.”   


More information about the Safe Child Care task force, including members, meeting minutes and recordings, can be found here

The CDHS Office of Early Childhood provides collaborative leadership to align resources for children, families, and early childhood professionals to best prepare Coloradans for future success, through access to coordinated and quality early childhood programs and family supports. The office aligns itself with the goals set forth in the Early Childhood Colorado Framework to ensure all children are valued, healthy and thriving.

Media contact:
Madlynn Ruble, Deputy Director of Communications