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Winter 2017

First Colorado Pilot

In winter of 2017, a CO Outdoor Nature-Based (ONB) license pilot was created. The pilot included a single program with a license exemption and there has been no summary of data collected or a plan regarding the creation of an Outdoor Nature-Based license. Since the creation of the pilot, several programs statewide have requested to join and have been denied access.  February 2024 - The data from the pilot is still not publicly accessible nor has any data been analyzed by CDEC and presented to the ONB community.  The program in the pilot still operates under a license exemption.

August 2022

CDEC Working Group


Participants from many areas of Outdoor Education in Early Childhood joined a Licensing Working Group to help CDEC develop a new, full-day, Outdoor Nature Based (ONB) Preschool License. This would enable programs to operate with increased capacity, choose to participate in UPK in 2023, and to develop meaningful data on our programs across the state. 

November 2022

CDEC Working Group

Changes Course

The Working Group developed a survey, with the help of this collective, to gather data on programs' interest in a half-day license. The survey results show: With a 1:6 ratio 307-343 year round spots would be created and 40 additional summer spots would be created.  11 unique programs support this option. 

With a 1:5 ratio 125 year round spots would be created.  
4 providers said they would use this license type if it is the only one available that is likely 4 of the same 11 that said they would prefer the 1:6.  
CDEC committed to pursuing a half-day license in 2023 with ratios limited to 1:5, with a revisit to the data for a full-day option (dependent on legislative support).

January 2023

This CO Collective has a sub-committee of practitioners, parents and other community supporters from across the state who are working to introduce legislation. If this bill passes it would enable trained Outdoor Nature Based (ONB) specialists for CDEC (who understand dynamic benefit risk assessment and the holistic benefits of preschools with a Forest School ethos) to collaborative with the CO Collective to write rules for a license that allow "true" ONB Preschools (not hybrid) to continue to operate as well as support new ones to develop.

CO Collective:

Legislative Sub-Committee

February 2023

The CDEC is drafting a rules package for a half-day licensed option, which will require 1:5 ratios, and an emergency shelter building. This is titled a "Hybrid License" because it requires the use of a building which many existing ONB programs do not have and therefore would not qualify for the licence.  The Working Group will review and engage in revisions with the proposed rule set once it is released.

CDEC Working Group

Half-Day "Hybrid" Rule Set

April 2024

A half day "Hybrid" ONB license is still not available nor has CDEC promulgated rules for that license type.  The CO Collective legislative sub-committee (composed of of practitioners, parents and other community supporters from across the state) partnered for the last 18 months with 3015 Policy to create and introduce SB 24-078. If this bill passes, it gives direction to CDEC to hire ONB licensing specialists and create a full day "true" ONB license that does not require a building by December 31, 2025. 

Feb 5, 2024 - The Bill passed 5:2 with bi-partisan support out of the Senate Education Committee today and is now headed to Appropriations and then the House.
Here is the recorded session with ONB testimony starting at 2:44:07.  There was diverse testimony in support of the bill from parents, occupational therapists, program directors, director of licensing of CDEC and kids from ONB programs who “STOLE the show!”

Senator Janice Marchman is the Prime Sponsor along with co-sponsors Senator Priola and Representatives Joseph and McLachlan.  Senator Marchman says "“By allowing ONBs to operate full-day programs, we can create job opportunities, make ONBs more accessible to working families, and ensure kids get the quality education they deserve.”

Senator Priola agrees and says “I’m glad to see Senate Bill 78 move forward, as it would ensure universal safety standards at outdoor nature based schools and break down barriers for working families who want to access this type of education,” said Priola. “With this bill, we can get outdoor nature preschools licensed as child care centers, and increase access to unique early childhood education options for Coloradans.” 

CO Collective:

Legislative Sub-Committee

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