First Colorado Pilot
In winter of 2017, a CO Outdoor Nature-Based (ONB) license pilot was created. The pilot included a single program 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 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.
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 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.
CDEC Working Group
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).
This CO Collective has a sub-committee of practitioners, parents and other community supporters from across the state who are working on introducing legislation. If this bill can be passed then it would enable this work to be funded and developed further made possible by trained Outdoor Nature Based specialists for CDEC who understand dynamic benefit risk assessment and the holistic benefits of preschools with a Forest School ethos to support writing of rules that allow true ONB Preschools to contineu to operate as well as support new ones to develop.
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 Rule Set
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 of practitioners, parents and other community supporters from across the state partnered for the last year with 3015 Policy to create and introduce SB 24-078. If this bill can be passed then it give direction to CDEC to create a full day true ONB license that does not require a building by December 31, 2025. 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 WILL CREATE JOB OPPORTUNITIES, MAKE ONBS MORE ACCESSIBLE TO WORKING FAMILIES, AND ENSURE KIDS GET THE QUALITY EDUCATION THEY DESERVE” The bill would enable this work to be funded and developed further made possible by trained Outdoor Nature Based licensing specialists for CDEC who understand dynamic benefit risk assessment and the holistic benefits of outdoor nature based preschools. These new licensing specialists would support writing of rules that allow true ONB Preschools to continue to operate as well as support new ones to develop.