Child care programs

  • Other Licensing Requirements

    The Minnesota Department of Health licenses and regulates certain facilities as it relates to sanitation and safety of the buildings and to the health, treatment, comfort, safety, and well-being of the persons being served. Depending on the type of service that you intend to provide in your facility, you may need a license from each state agency. Additional information for MDH licensing information may be found on their website for:

    Food, Beverage and Lodging (FBL) License

    Food Manager Certification

    Family child care

    Family child care governs licensure of providers of child care in a setting other than a child care center, usually the provider’s residence, for fewer than 24 hours per day.

    The Department of Human Services has delegated licensing of family child care to counties. For licensing information, contact your county social services department or human services department. A listing of county social services departments or human services departments is available by on the Minnesota Department of Human Services Web site.

    Family child care is licensed under DHS Rule 2 (Licensing of Family Child Care Facilities). The rule addresses, among other requirements: licensing of homes for family child care and group family child care, licensing process, negative licensing actions, agency records, caregiver qualifications, licensed capacity, child/adult ratios, age distribution requirements, age distribution restrictions, reporting agency, day care training, behavior guidance, admissions, provider records, reporting, activities and equipment, physical environment, sanitation and health, water, food and nutrition.

    Rule 2: Minnesota Rules, parts 9502.0300 to 9502.0445 – Licensure of Family Child Care Facilities - Family and Group Family Child Care.

    Child care centers

    Center based child care - sets standards for licensing child care centers including programs that provide child care, preschool/nursery programs, Head Start programs, night care, drop-in and sick care for fewer than 24 hours a day in a setting that is not a residence.

    The following is a general overview of the primary child care center licensing requirements, but does not include all specific requirements. For complete requirements, see Minnesota Rules, parts 9503.0005 to 9503.0170 (DHS Rule 3) and Minnesota Statutes, Chapters 245A and 245C.

    Staff qualifications: The center must have a director and the appropriate number of staff qualified as teachers, assistant teachers, and aides based on staff ratio and distribution requirements. Within each age category, the first staff needed to meet the staff to child ratio must be a teacher; the second staff must be at least aide qualified; the third staff must be at least assistant teacher qualified; and the fourth staff must be at least aide qualified.

    Teacher: Must be at least 18 and meet one of nine possible combined credential, education and experience requirements, such as a high school diploma with 4,160 hours experience as an assistant teacher and 24 quarter credits in a child care-related field.

    Assistant teacher: Must work under the supervision of a teacher, must be at least 18, and meet one of the nine possible combined credential, education and experience requirements, such as a high school diploma with 2,080 hours experience as an aide or intern and 12 quarter credits.

    Aide: Carries out the child care program activities under the supervision of a teacher or assistant teacher. Must be at least 16; if under 18 must be directly supervised by a teacher or assistant teacher at all times except with sleeping children or assisting with toileting and diapering.

    Volunteers: If included in the staff ratio, must meet the requirements for the assigned staff position. Volunteers who have direct contact or access to children must be supervised by director, teacher or assistant teacher.

    Staff orientation and in-service training: The applicant must ensure that every staff person and volunteer who will have direct contact with children, is given orientation training before starting assigned duties. At least one staff person trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid must be present in the center at all times when children are in care. The applicant must ensure that an annual in-service training plan is developed and implemented as required.

    Child age groups:

  • • Infant - Age 6 weeks but less than 16 months old
  • • Toddler - Age 16 months but less than 33 months old
  • • Preschooler - Age 33 months but has not yet attended the first day of kindergarten
  • • School age - Is at least of sufficient age to have attended the first day of kindergarten, or is eligible to enter kindergarten within the next four months, but is younger than 13 years of age.
  • Staff ratios and group size: The applicant must meet the minimally acceptable staff to child ratios and the maximum group size within the following age categories:


    Staff-to-child ratio:

    Maximum group size:










    School age



    Child care program plan: The applicant must develop a written child care program plan that addresses supervision; age categories and number of children served; days and hours of operation; goals and objectives; activities; each child's progress; and the daily schedule. When a program admits a child with special needs, the program must ensure that an individual child care program plan is developed to meet the child's individual needs.

    Required policies: The applicant must develop and implement written policies in the following areas:

  • Behavior guidance. This includes positive behavior guidance, unacceptable behavior procedures and prohibited actions.
  • Information for parents. At the time of enrollment, parents must be provided with written notification of the: ages and numbers of children served; hours of operation; educational methods; political, religious, behavioral and philosophical ideology; parent rights; parent conferences; health care summary; sick care policies; first aid; medication administration; parental permission; pet policy; visiting procedures; and grievance procedure.
  • Emergency and accident policies and records. The applicant must keep a record of incidents, emergencies, accidents and injuries that occur. Policies must address: first aid; safety rules; daily inspections for hazards; fire prevention; disaster procedures; missing child procedures; unauthorized pickup of child; medical emergency; recording procedures; and annual analysis of center policies.
  • • Health policies. The applicant must have approved health policies and have a health consultant review the center's health policies annually, including first aid, safety, diapering and sanitation. The applicant must follow required procedures for immunizations, notices about sick children, administration of medicine, and sanitation practices concerning toilet facilities, diaper changing and hand washing.
  • • Mandated reporting policies and procedures. The applicant must develop policies and procedures for reporting suspected maltreatment and for reporting complaints about the program.
  • Records:

  • • Administrative records: Parent information; personnel records; children's records; child care program plan; emergency and accident records; staff distribution schedule; separation reports; and health consultant reports.
  • • Personnel records: Staff person's identifying information; documentation that the staff person meets the job requirements and education and experience; documentation of orientation; documentation of first aid and CPR, as applicable; in-service documentation; and documentation of a completed background study.
  • • Children's records: Identifying information; parent’s name, address, phone number and emergency contact information; people authorized to pick up child; medical and emergency care; immunizations; attendance hours; diet; individual child care program plan; and parent conferences documentation.
  • Facility requirements:

  • • Zoning. Must meet applicable local zoning codes.
  • • Building code. Applicant must comply with applicable building code standards.
  • • Fire code. Center must be inspected by a fire marshal within 12 months before initial licensure.
  • • Health code. Must meet applicable health department code standards.
  • Floor plan and designated areas: Indoor and outdoor space to be used for child care must be designated on facility floor plan.

    Outdoor activity area: The outdoor activity area must meet specified requirements including 1,500 square feet with at least 75 square feet per child, must be within 2,000 feet of the center and enclosed if adjacent to traffic and other hazards, must be free of litter and other hazards, and must contain the required outdoor large muscle equipment.

    Indoor space: The licensed capacity is limited by the amount of indoor space. A minimum of 35 square feet is required for each child. Hallways, stairways, closets, utility rooms, lavatories, water closets, kitchens and space occupied by cribs may not be counted as useable indoor space.

    Toilets and sinks: One sink and one toilet must be provided for each 15 children; one toilet training seat for every 15 toddlers; hand sinks other than for infants must be in toilet area; single service towels or air dryers are required; fixtures must be placed at age-appropriate heights; and water temperatures must not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Furnishings, equipment, materials and supplies: The program must have the quantity and type of furnishings, equipment and materials specified for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children. The following are some examples of required furnishings, equipment and materials:

  • • Furnishings: rugs or carpets, nonfolding chairs, cribs and changing tables.
  • • Program equipment and materials: Books, large and small building blocks, infant mobility equipment, cognitive development material, manipulative equipment and arts and crafts supplies.
  • • Supplies: Blankets and sheets, disposable changing table paper, diapers, single service towels and liquid hand soap.
  • To begin the initial licensing process, the applicant must:

  • • Submit completed license application forms provided by DHS.
  • • Document compliance with applicable building codes, fire and safety codes, health rules, zoning ordinances or document that an appropriate waiver has been granted.
  • • Provide evidence of compliance with worker's compensation insurance coverage requirements.
  • • Provide Social Security and Minnesota business identification numbers.
  • • Submit a nonrefundable initial license application fee. The fee is $550.
  • • Submit required policies and procedures.
  • Background studies: All individuals having direct contact with children in care must have a background study conducted by DHS. Before an initial license is issued, the person(s) who signed the application and the individual(s) with the highest degree of decision-making authority over the program must have a background study clearance notification from DHS.

    A license application is considered complete when all the required documentation is submitted. After DHS receives a complete application, a child care licensor will schedule and conduct an on-site inspection.

    Child care center statutes and rules

    Rule 3: Minnesota Rules, parts 9503.0005 to 9503.0170 – Licensure of Child Care Centers.

    Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 245A (Human Services Licensing Act)

    Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 245C (Human Services Background Studies Act)

    Minnesota Statutes, section 626.556 (Maltreatment of Minors Act)

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