High quality child care builds a foundation for future success

Many children enter kindergarten equipped with fundamental skills, such as the ability to identify sounds and words or follow instructions from a teacher. These skills are important building blocks that help children develop language, literacy and social-emotional skills that are essential to their future success in school.  Children who start kindergarten without these skills can have a hard time catching up. 

The quality of early learning programs is important because children who attend high-quality early learning programs are better prepared for kindergarten, more likely to do well in school and less likely to drop out or need remedial education later on. 

Colorado Shines is the state’s quality rating and improvement system for early learning programs like childcare and preschool. Colorado Shines assesses, improves and communicates the quality of licensed early learning programs serving children ages 0-5 years in the state. Using proven methods, Colorado Shines measures quality based on how well an early learning program supports children, families and the professionals who work there.

Colorado Shines allows families to search for quality-rated early learning programs to select the best care for their child – for free!  

Visit www.ColoradoShines.com and use the “Find a Program” tool to view all of the licensed programs in your area, see their quality rating, find out how they accommodate children with special needs, if they accept the Child Care Assistance Program, and more! You can also call the Colorado Shines Child Care Referral at Mile High United Way a t1-877-338-2273 to conduct a search over the phone. 

You can also tell if a program is quality rated by Colorado Shines by looking for their banner or yard sign (pictured above). 

Once you have selected a few programs in your area, you will want to visit them in person and ask questions such as:

  • Is your program Colorado Shines rated?
  • How will my child spend his/her day?
  • What training have you and your staff had?
  • What kind of daily communication can I expect from you?
  • Are there ways for me to get more involved as a parent?

The Colorado Shines Quality Care Worksheet provides additional steps and a checklist of questions and things to look for to support your search for childcare and preschool programs. 

[1] 2016 Colorado Kids Count Report
[1] National Education Association Early Childhood Education Highlights
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