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Child Care and Early Education

Positive learning experiences early in life help children's social and emotional development. Children who attend high quality child care or preschool are better at learning, including language and math. They also get experience in listening, following directions, participating in a group, expressing feelings in an appropriate way, and staying on track with activities. When children learn these things before they enter school, they are more likely to be successful in school.

All child care arrangements, including licensed centers and homes, family members, friends and neighbors, have the potential to provide high quality services that can stimulate and nurture children and be responsive to their needs.

The links below lead to information that can help parents or family members understand how to recognize quality child care, how to find child care, BVSD Early Access, and other services in Boulder County, and how to get involved in their children's education.

What is the Quality Rating and Improvement System?

Colorado’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) is called Colorado Shines. It is used to assess, improve and communicate the level ofobservedanddocumentedquality in early care and education programs.  Colorado Shines assigns a quality rating to licensed early care and education programs, similar to rating systems for other service-related industries like hotels and restaurants. The five standards of quality that are measured are: (Provisions made to ensure)Child Health, Workforce Qualifications and Professional Development, Learning Environment, Family Engagement and Relationships,andLeadership/Management.

For more information, please visit

What does Colorado Shines do for families?

  • Colorado Shines helps families find high-quality child care and early learning programs that fit theirs and their children's needs.
  • Colorado Shines does not incur a cost to families.
  • Choosing child care is an important decision. Families deserve to know their children are in quality child care environments that foster a love of learning, promote each child's unique skills, cultures, and support the development of the whole child.
  • Participating child care and early learning programs receive free resources and training to improve the quality of their programs and there is no additional cost to families. Funding comes from the state of Colorado through two federal grants: Child Care Development Fund and Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant.



Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions that parents make. It is crucial to carefully select a child care program that meets the needs of children and their families. This takes time, resourcefulness and consumer skills. Visit the children's services programs within the City of Boulder, Children, Youth and Families website for tips on choosing child care.


Looking for child care? The children's services programs within the City of Boulder, Children, Youth and Families Division can help you to find licensed child care in Boulder County that meets your needs and give you tips on how to evaluate the quality of care. The service is provided at no charge. Call (303) 441-3544 for more information or visit their website to do an on-line child care search.


Parents and guardians who are interested in having their children considered for entrance to kindergarten in the Boulder Valley School District before reaching the normal age cut-off of 5 years old by September 30th are invited to read about the Early Access option at the BVSD website/tag and click on Early Access.

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