Child Care

The first few years of children’s lives are key to their intellectual, emotional and social development. Everyone wants to know that children are being well cared for while family members are at work or school. High quality child care that is available and affordable is important to children’s healthy development and families’ self-sufficiency and peace-of-mind. Paying for child care can be difficult for families with low incomes. Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program can help families who qualify. Find out more about Child Care Assistance.

It’s important that all children and their families have access to high-quality care and education programs. Minnesota’s Child Development Services provides leadership and support to programs working to increase the availability of quality care and education in Minnesota. Find out more about Child Development Services.

Highly-rated Parent Aware providers eligible for higher rates in the Child Care Assistance Program – March 3, 2014

Effective March 3, 2014, highly-rated licensed family child care providers and child care centers participating in Parent Aware are eligible for higher rates for quality.

  • • Providers with a 3-Star Parent Aware rating are eligible for up to 15 percent above the standard maximum rate. For specific reimbursement rates see CCAP 15 Percent Quality Differential Maximum Rates - Effective February 3, 2014 DHS-6442B (PDF).
  • • Providers with a 4-Star Parent Aware rating are eligible for up to 20 percent above the standard maximum rate. For specific reimbursement rates see CCAP 20 Percent Quality Differential Maximum Rates - Effective March 3, 2014 DHS-6824 (PDF).

  • The CCAP maximum rates are the highest rate than can be paid to a provider. The rate paid to a provider caring for a child through CCAP cannot be higher than their typical private pay charge. Providers that meet the criteria for both the 15 percent quality differential (hold an approved accreditation /credential) and the 20 percent differential (Parent Aware 4-Star rated) are eligible for up to 20 percent above the standard maximum rate.

    Child Care Assistance Program Maximum Rates Changes – February 3, 2014

    Effective February 3, 2014, approximately half of the maximum reimbursement rates that can be paid to providers caring for children through the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) will increase. No rates will decrease. Read this FAQ (PDF) to learn more about the rate change.

  • • For specific reimbursement rates see CCAP Standard Maximum Rates - Effective February 3, 2014 (DHS-6441B PDF).
  • • For specific reimbursement rates for providers that hold certain accreditations or credentials see CCAP 15 Percent Quality Differential Maximum Rates - Effective February 3, 2014 DHS-6442B (PDF).
  • List of accreditations for the Child Care Assistance Program rate differential

    The Minnesota Department of Human Services approves accreditations for child care centers and school-age programs to qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) 15 percent rate differential.

    Accrediting organizations interested in seeking approval are required to apply by August 1, 2014. Read this FAQ (PDF) to learn more.

    To apply, complete the appropriate application using the online submission process:

    Accreditations for center-based settings may use the Accreditation Review for Center-Based Early Care and Education Programs DHS-2600A (PDF) form.

    Accreditations for Out-of-School-Time programs may use the Accreditation Review for Out-of-School-Time Programs DHS-2600B (PDF) form.

    If you have questions, email:

    Approved accreditations for early care and education programs:

  • • Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment (APPLE), offered by the Florida Association for Child Care Management (FACCM)
  • • American Montessori Society (AMS) School Accreditation
  • • Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) Accreditation
  • • Association of Montessori International – USA (AMI) – Montessori School Recognition
  • • Council on Accreditation (COA) – Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program Accreditation
  • • National Accreditation Commission (NAC) for Early Care and Education Programs Accreditation
  • • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation
  • • National Early Childhood Program Accreditation Commission Inc. (NECPA) Accreditation
  • • The NHSA Quality Initiative: Head Start Performance Excellence and Quality Recognition Program, offered by the National Head Start Association (NHSA)

  • Approved accreditations for school-age/after school programs:

  • • Council on Accreditation (COA) – After school (ASP) & Youth Development (YDP) Program Accreditation
  • • Minnesota Afterschool Accreditation Program (MAAP), offered by the Minnesota School-Age Care Alliance (MNSACA)

  • There continues to be one accreditation for family child care providers to qualify for the 15 percent rate differential, as provided in statute. There are also education credentials that qualify.

    Approved accreditations for family child care providers:

  • • National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) Accreditation

  • If you have questions, email:

    Report analyzes professional development issues

    A new report commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Care Workforce in Minnesota (DHS-5115A-ENG PDF), sheds new light on the size, stability and the demographics of those serving children in licensed family child care homes, child care centers, preschools and school-age programs. It also assesses child care providers’ needs, barriers and motivations for participating in training and professional development.

    Professional associations of family child care providers surveyed

    Local family child care associations throughout Minnesota were recently identified and contacted to gather information about their characteristics, the professional development opportunities they provide, their attitudes toward family child care licensing requirements and their awareness of early childhood organizations and resources. Survey findings and recommendations contained in the report, Family Child Care Associations in Minnesota (DHS-6522-ENG PDF), will be used to inform child care policies and programs.

    Documents provide framework for understanding developmentally appropriate expectations for children

    The Minnesota Indicators of Progress is a framework for understanding and communicating a common set of developmentally appropriate expectations for children ages birth through 12. The documents make clear that responsibility for helping children meet these expectations is shared broadly among family members, early childhood teachers and providers, and community members. Comments, questions and/or requests for a printed document can be e-mailed to:

    Indicators of Progress documents include:

    Study highlights challenges and choices for parents arranging child care

    Minnesota families are challenged to knit together child care that fits their preferences, needs, and is affordable, according to a recent study commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and conducted by Wilder Research. Findings are summarized in a set of one-page briefs on important themes: 1) Key trends; 2) Child care hours and types of care; 3) Child care choices, quality and cost; 4) Child care for families with low incomes; 5) Family, friend and neighbor child care; 6) Child care for children with special needs; 7) Children with working parents. The complete 88-page report, Child Care Use in Minnesota: Report of the 2009 Statewide Household Child Care Survey, paints a detailed picture of child care choice, satisfaction, and affordability throughout the state. It will be used to help inform, develop and assess Minnesota’s child care policies and programs.

    Early childhood quality rating and improvement system outlined

    A report requested by the Minnesota Legislature from the Minnesota Departments of Human Services and Education proposes standards and indicators to measure the quality of early child care programs if a statewide system were implemented. The recently released report, An Early Childhood Quality Rating and Improvement System, also recommends ways to realign existing state and federal funding and administrative resources to implement the voluntary quality rating and improvement system framework.

    Annual report highlights system for early child care providers

    Minnesota Department of Human Services, in cooperation with the Department of Health and the Department of Education, developed a professional development system to enhance the quality of child care and promote success in school. The Annual Report of the Minnesota Professional Development System for Early Childhood and School-age Practitioners (2010) provides details on 25 key indicators of that effort’s progress. Future reports will provide updates and trend data on the key indicators of the PD System.

    2014-15 Child Care and Development Fund Plan available

    Minnesota’s application to the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) describes how more than $80 million in state and federal funds will be spent to provide low-income families with access to child care and improve the quality of that care. A PDF of the 180-page, two-year plan is available by sending an email request specifying “CCDF Fund Plan” in the subject line to

    Report evaluates Family, Friend and Neighbor grant activities

    A summary (PDF) and a complete report (PDF) to the Minnesota Legislature describe Minnesota's groundbreaking grants to six organizations to develop and establish programs to enhance Family, Friend and Neighbor child care and to foster community partnerships to promote school readiness. Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) care is a relatively new term that describes the network of relatives, close friends and neighbors who are involved with parents in the care of young children. Program evaluations and recommendations for defining, creating and supporting a community of FFN caregivers in the future are included.

    Administrative alternatives explored in report

    At the request of the Minnesota Legislature, the Department of Human Services (DHS) in conjunction with the Department of Education (MDE) studied issues related to the possible transition of Basic Sliding Fee Child Care, Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) Child Care and the Child Care Development grants program from DHS to MDE. The report, “Early Learning Study: Move and Standards” (PDF) also provides an update on progress toward creating a common set of standards for early child care.

    Booklet provides tips for child care providers on emergency planning

    A workbook for child care providers, Keeping Kids Safe (PDF), details a 10-step process for preparing to respond to various types emergencies such as natural disasters or hazardous material incidents. The first two sections of the booklet explain how to create a plan, identify potential emergency risks and obtain additional planning resources. A third section shows how to maintain the plan. A fourth section provides an outline for writing a plan to ensure child safety in these stressful and potentially dangerous situations.

    Web application makes information about licensed programs easier to find

    Minnesotans will have an easier time finding information on licensed providers of child care and other programs. The simple online search tool contains information from DHS’ licensing information database. Here is a link to the Licensing Information Lookup.

    Groundbreaking studies examine informal child care

    While the qualities of child care provided by licensed centers have been the subject of countless studies, little systematic attention has been paid to the more prevalent type of care – that provided by families, friends and neighbors (FFN). In fact, more Minnesota families use some form of FFN care on a regular basis, and many rely on it exclusively for caring for children under age 13. Previous research has shown that child care arrangements are a factor in school readiness outcomes. Meanwhile, there is interest in improving the quality and safety of government-subsidized care for children from low-income families. To better understand some of the issued involved, DHS conducted several formal studies. The following are now available:

    Revised manual to help families become employed, self-sufficient

    With the recently revised Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) Policy Manual, county and contracted agency child care workers will now be able to better serve families in the program. The manual, with information on policies, procedures, rules and statutes of CCAP, will provide workers with the information they need to help families in the program so they can become employed and self-sufficient. A copy of the manual is available on the department’s website.

    Workforce-strengthening initiatives to educate young children highlighted

    An overview of current efforts to improve professional development opportunities in the state are contained in The Minnesota Office of Early Learning’s 2012 Great Workforce Annual Report (PDF). The report, recently produced by the Minnesota Departments of Health, Education and Human Services, highlights more than 25 different efforts to better support the individuals and organizations that provide early care and education for Minnesota’s young children.

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