We Defend Colorado Child Care Center Licenses
Colorado is a great state in which to offer child care provider services. The state's natural beauty, substantial population, and strong and diverse economy can make for a stable and rewarding child care practice. Colorado's Division of Early Learning and Licensing and Administration (DELLA), a division of the Department of Early Childhood, licenses more than five thousand child care facilities in Colorado. Those thousands of facilities include both licensed family child care homes and non-home child care facilities. Yet you must maintain your Colorado child care provider license if you wish to continue to enjoy the rewards of your professional practice. The Division of Early Learning and Licensing and Administration (DELLA) investigates and suspends or revokes the licenses of many child care providers who no longer meet state requirements.
If you have received DELLA's notice of disciplinary investigation against your Colorado child care provider license, you will surely have many questions. You will also need skilled and experienced defense representation for your best disciplinary outcome. Retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team for the qualified defense services you need. Our attorneys are available for your defense whether you are located in Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Pueblo, or any other Colorado city or town. Preserve your Colorado child care provider license. Call 888.535.3686 or complete this contact form now for Colorado professional disciplinary license defense.
Types of Colorado Child Care Providers
The Colorado Department of Early Childhood, through its Division of Early Learning and Licensing and Administration (DELLA), licenses several types of child care facilities. Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-303 defines those facilities to include (1) a child care center providing care for five or more children not related to the operator and (2) a family child care home in a residence providing less than twenty-four-hour care for children unrelated to the home's head. Colorado's Child Care Licensing Act has a broad reach. Under the same statute, child care centers include “school-age child care centers, before- and after-school programs, kindergartens, preschools, day camps, and summer camps.” The Department of Early Childhood's administrative regulations define several other types of temporary, transitional, or long-term child care providers. The following discussion refers to all DELLA licensees as child care providers, although in some cases the laws, rules, and regulations differ as to the specific type of facility.
Colorado Child Care Provider Licensure
Colorado's legislature declares in Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-302 the need to license and closely regulate the growing number of child care providers in the state as more parents work outside the home and require child care. The legislature authorizes the Colorado Department of Early Childhood and its Division of Early Learning and Licensing and Administration (DELLA) to issue child care provider licenses. Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-309 requires that a child care provider operating in the state first have a license, stating, “a person shall not operate an agency or facility defined in this part 3 without first being licensed by the department to operate or maintain the agency or facility….” You need your DELLA license to operate your Colorado child care facility. Don't lose your license to disciplinary charges. Let us help you defend those charges.
Early Childhood National Centers
Your Colorado child care provider license permits you to operate a child care facility only in Colorado, not in other states. If you lose your Colorado license, you lose the opportunity to provide child care services in Colorado, not necessarily in other states. But disciplinary action against your child care license in Colorado could well result in the loss of your child care licenses in other states if you hold any such licenses. And disciplinary action in Colorado could prevent you from obtaining a child care license in another state, if you seek to move your child care services to another state.
The Early Childhood National Centers seek to ensure that the movement of child care providers from state to state does not frustrate licensing officials. The Centers promote interstate child care background checks, including National Fingerprint Files available to participating states. Child care providers who seek to use aliases may still find their criminal or disciplinary records exposed through fingerprint procedures. Colorado is among those National Fingerprint File participating states. The Centers also promote interstate sex offender registry, child abuse registry, and criminal background checks. Discipline in Colorado will likely follow you to other states. Defend and defeat your Colorado disciplinary charges now rather than face their national consequences later.
Colorado Child Care Provider Licensing Authority
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-309 authorizes DELLA to issue a license when the applicant satisfies the Child Care Licensing Act's provisions, including the Department of Early Childhood's administrative regulations that DELLA follows and enforces. Those administrative regulations are exhaustive. They run to nearly five hundred pages in the printable form the Department of Early Childhood offers. Don't doubt the abundant detail, strict definition, and broad reach of these child care licensing regulations. You must deal with DELLA, which has the state's authority to grant or deny child care provider licenses. Our attorneys are available to help you with disputes over your child care licensing application, resulting in its denial or your license's suspension or revocation.
Colorado Department of Early Childhood Regulatory Authority
Colorado's Department of Early Childhood, through its Division of Early Learning and Licensing and Administration (DELLA), monitors, inspects, and disciplines child care providers in the state. Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-309 provides that while a child care provider license is permanent once granted, the Department of Early Childhood, through DELLA, has the right to suspend or revoke it: “A license issued by the department is permanent unless otherwise revoked or suspended pursuant to section 26.5-5-317.” While the state treats child care licenses as permanent once granted, the state also seeks to ensure that child care providers continue to comply with all laws, rules, and regulations to maintain their license. Let us help you protect your license.
Colorado Department of Early Childhood Disciplinary Actions
Others who have a need to know of your fitness to provide child care services will be able to discover if you suffer discipline against your Colorado child care provider license. Colorado Administrative Code Section 7.701.32 authorizes the Division of Early Learning and Licensing and Administration (DELLA) to maintain a “TRAILS” registry system recording disciplinary actions. Expect a permanent or long-term searchable record of your child care provider license discipline if you lose your disciplinary charges. Don't expect confidentiality. Let us help you avoid discipline rather than assuming that you might keep discipline private and confidential.
Colorado Child Care Provider Disciplinary Sanctions
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317 authorizes several different sanctions when DELLA finds that a licensed child care provider no longer meets the state's standards. The statute provides that DELLA “may deny an application, or suspend, revoke, or make probationary the license of any facility regulated and licensed pursuant to this part 3 or assess a fine against the licensee….” License suspension or revocation are not DELLA's only options. The Department of Early Childhood's administrative regulations clarify that DELLA may also “demote to probationary status” the license of any child care provider warranting discipline.
Although these provisions sound daunting, DELLA's broad authority to fashion discipline beyond or other than suspension and revocation could potentially work in your favor. Our attorneys may be able to negotiate remedial relief short of your license's suspension or revocation. That remedial relief, such as additional education or training, or corrective measures involving the facility or staff, may take the place of any discipline. It may also allow you to keep your doors open and avoid crippling program interruptions. Any cessation of your services may cause parents alarm and close your professional practice. Let us help you avoid the worst sanctions.
Grounds for Colorado Child Care Provider Discipline
Colorado Division of Early Learning and Licensing and Administration (DELLA) disciplinary officials must allege and prove statutory or regulatory grounds for their disciplinary actions. They cannot simply make up their own grounds or act arbitrarily and capriciously. Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) authorizes several grounds for disciplinary action. Consider the most common of those grounds below, along with suggestions of how our attorneys may be able to help you defend and defeat those disciplinary charges.
False Statements as Grounds for Colorado Child Care License Discipline
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) authorizes license suspension, revocation, or probation when a licensee “[f]urnishes or makes any misleading or any false statement or report to the department.” False statements or misleading omissions in a license application would constitute credentials fraud, exposing children to risks from an unqualified licensee. For instance, false representations that the applicant has no criminal convictions or prior license discipline may conceal bad character or unfitness to provide child care services. False statements or misleading omissions in licensing inspections could have the same endangering effect.
But a disciplinary charge for false statements is not the same as a finding of wrongdoing. With our help, you may be able to show that your statements were accurate, that you did not omit any material information, and that any omissions or misstatements were innocent without the intent to conceal or defraud. Intent can be critical. Applicants make innocent mistakes. Disciplinary officials may be willing to forgive innocent misrepresentations or omissions, especially if they did not conceal information that would have resulted in the application's denial. Let us help defend false statement charges.
Abuse and Neglect as Grounds for Colorado Child Care License Discipline
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) also authorizes license suspension, revocation, or probation when “the licensee, person employed by the licensee, or person who resides with the licensee in the licensed facility” commits an act of abuse or neglect as the state's child-protection laws define those terms. Abuse and neglect allegations are obviously very serious allegations. DELLA may immediately suspend the license and require the provider to cease operations on substantial evidence of abuse or neglect, even before the due process hearing that must by law soon follow. For the definitions of abuse and neglect, the child care licensing statute references Colorado Statute Section 19-1-103, which defines abuse or neglect to include:
- skin bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, failure to thrive, burns, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma, soft tissue swelling, or death, when those conditions are not accidental, the licensee cannot explain them, or the explanation appears false;
- sexual misconduct, as another statute defines it, including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, enticement, indecent exposure, pandering, and obscenity;
- failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision that a prudent parent would provide;
- emotional abuse, defined as an “identifiable and substantial impairment of the child's intellectual or psychological functioning or development” or a substantial risk of the same;
- the manufacture or attempted manufacture of a controlled substance on the premises or when substance use threatens the child's health or welfare; and
- human trafficking activity on the premises.
Defending abuse and neglect charges can be difficult, depending on whether a child has already suffered harm. Our attorneys may, though, be able to show that the child's harm was from other causes, was accidental, and was not reasonably preventable. Causation defenses of that type may require that we retain expert medical consultants. We may also be able to show that the conditions DELLA alleges did not exist or did not endanger children and that you promptly corrected any such conditions without harm or risk to children.
Standards Violations as Grounds for Colorado Child Care License Discipline
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) also authorizes license suspension, revocation, or probation when a licensee “[c]onsistently fails to maintain standards prescribed and published by the department.” You must meet all standards, or at least meet the most significant standards most of the time, to avoid discipline. The standards are so numerous and lengthy that licensees may be out of compliance on one or more of the minor standards for much of the time. Examples of significant standards violations exposing children to risk of harm include:
- facility defects like exposed wiring and electrical outlets, missing railings and gates, missing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, the lack of adequate fire escape routes, and inadequate heating and ventilation;
- inadequate room sizes for the number and ages of children;
- inadequate cots, beds, tables, chairs, counters, cabinets, and other furnishings;
- inadequate playgrounds without fencing, with dangerous play equipment, or without dry and safe grounds;
- inadequate staffing for the number of children served, untrained and unqualified staff, and unsupervised staff;
- inadequate recordkeeping and reporting;
- failures to supervise, evaluate, and remove children who abuse or endanger other children.
Our defense of standards violations may require proving that you were reasonably unaware of certain conditions that you promptly remedied as soon as discovered. We may also be able to show that the conditions alleged did not exist, did not violate DELLA standards, did not harm any children, and did not unreasonably endanger children.
Incompetence as Grounds for Colorado Child Care License Discipline
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) also authorizes license suspension, revocation, or probation when a court determines that the licensee, employees, or persons residing in the licensed facility are “insane or mentally incompetent.” Our defense of incompetence charges may require showing that the person judged incompetent no longer works or resides at your child care facility and that the person did not harm children or expose children to risks.
Intoxication as Grounds for Colorado Child Care License Discipline
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) also authorizes license suspension, revocation, or probation when the licensee, employees, or persons residing in the licensed facility use controlled substances, including marijuana, or consume alcohol during your facilities operating hours, or are under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol during operations. Defense of intoxication charges may require showing that no one consumed such substances or was under the influence, that you were reasonably unaware of any such substance use or intoxication, and that you took immediate steps to remedy any such situation.
Criminal Conviction as Grounds for Colorado Child Care License Discipline
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) also authorizes license suspension, revocation, or probation when the licensee, employees, or persons residing in the licensed facility suffers a felony conviction or conviction for child abuse, enters into a deferred judgment agreement for those offenses, suffers a third-degree assault conviction, suffers a misdemeanor conviction involving domestic violence, or violates a protection order. Criminal convictions of these types show the unfitness and bad character of the individuals to provide safe and secure child care services. DELLA requires that you notify it of convictions of owners, managers, and employees to ensure your compliance. You must also conduct periodic criminal background checks on hiring and again at least every five years to discover disqualifying criminal convictions employees and others do not disclose.
Our defense of disciplinary charges involving criminal conviction may involve proving to DELLA officials that the person suffering the disqualifying conviction does not reside or work at your facility, that the court reversed the conviction or discharged the deferred plea agreement, that the court expunged the conviction proving rehabilitation, or that the conviction was not among the listed disqualifying grounds. We may also be able to show that you were not aware of the conviction despite following reasonable background procedures and that you promptly terminated the convicted person's employment as soon as discovering the disqualifying conviction.
Failure to Cooperate as Grounds for Colorado Child Care License Discipline
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) also authorizes license suspension, revocation, or probation when the licensee “fails or refuses to submit to an investigation or inspection by the department or to admit authorized representatives of the department at any reasonable time for the purpose of investigation or inspection.” DELLA inspections, both scheduled and unannounced, are an important part of the agency's function. While parents or others may complain about poor or unsafe child care, only trained inspection officials are likely to know what the law, rules, and regulations actually require. Inspections accomplish that review.
Defending non-cooperation charges may involve proving that DELLA officials did not reasonably identify themselves to you or another knowledgeable and responsible manager at your facility. You may have been within your rights and obligations to refuse access to an inadequately identified person claiming to be a state official.
Unsanitary Conditions as Grounds for Colorado Child Care License Discipline
Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(2) also authorizes license suspension, revocation, or probation when the licensee “fails to provide, maintain, equip, and keep in safe and sanitary condition premises established or used for child care pursuant to standards prescribed by the department of public health and environment….” DELLA inspectors may allege unsanitary conditions in kitchens, spoiled or exposed food, unsanitary food preparation or serving, and unsanitary or inadequate bathrooms, among other unsanitary conditions. Defending disciplinary charges over unsanitary conditions may require proving that your facility was sanitary, that you were reasonably unaware of any unsanitary condition, that you took prompt and effective steps to remedy any unsanitary condition, and that any unsanitary condition did not harm any child or expose any child to substantial risk of harm.
Colorado Child Care Provider Disciplinary Procedures
Remember that DELLA disciplinary charges are only allegations, not factual findings of standards violations. DELLA disciplinary officials may or may not have evidence of the matters they allege. They may be acting on false, mistaken, or exaggerated reports by others. And even if the disciplinary allegations are substantially true, that may not mean that license suspension or revocation must necessarily follow. Consistent with your constitutional due process rights, Colorado Statute Section 26.5-5-317(9) assures you of protective procedures, giving you the right to fair notice of the charges and an opportunity for a hearing to present your own evidence while challenging the allegations. Let us help you invoke those procedures. Our attorneys can appear on your behalf, seek early voluntary dismissal, cross-examine witnesses at any formal hearing, appeal adverse results, and take other actions in your effective defense.
Premier Child Care License Defense in Colorado
For your best outcome to Colorado child care provider disciplinary charges, retain the Lento Law Firm's premier Professional License Defense Team. Our attorneys are available for your defense in Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Pueblo, or any other Colorado city or town. Call 888.535.3686 or complete this contact form now.