Child Care Center License (Rule 3)
Agency contact information:
Human Services (DHS), Minnesota Department of
P.O. Box 64242
St. Paul, MN 55164-0242
(651) 431-2000 | For TTY/TDD communication, use Minnesota Relay Service at 711 or (800) 627-3529
Division of Licensing
Contact Info: General questions email contact
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) offers programs for health care, child support, food support, general assistance, nursing home care, seniors, people who are deaf, people who have developmental disabilities, foster care, child protection and adult and children's mental health services.
Application for license (7-13)
Document list (1-11)
Experienced aide report (11-07)
Floor plan (1-07)
Guidelines for Developing Policies & Procedures (2-13)
Health care summary (1-01)
Immunization record (4-13)
Infant equipment and supplies form (9-02)
Injury/Incident Report Form (12-12)
In-service training record (4-08)
Maltreatment of Minors mandated reporting policy form (12-11)
Monthly Crib Safety Inspection Form (1-07)
Parent Directive for Infant Sleep Position (7-09)
Personnel information form (PIF) (4-08)
Preschool equipment and supplies form (9-02)
Reportable communicable diseases
Risk Reduction Plan sample form (11-12)
School age equipment and supplies form (4-10)
Separation report (7-09)
Staffing patterns (1-01)
Summary of personnel information (1-11)
Toddler equipment and supplies form (9-02)
Unqualified substitute report (1-01)
Variance request (6-07)
MN Tax Identification Form
Initial Applicant Information Form
Worker's Compensation Insurance Form
Approval - Zoning
Approval - Fire Marshal
Approval - Building Code
Approval - Health Code
Licensing forms information is available on the MN Dept. of Human Services (DHS) website, at Licensing forms section, under Forms for child care centers .
Child Care Centers
General licensing information
The following is a general overview of the primary child care center licensing requirements and does not include all specific requirements.
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:
-first staff needed to meet the staff to child ratio must be a teacher.
-second staff must be at least aide qualified.
-third staff must be at least assistant teacher qualified.
-fourth staff must be at least aide qualified.
Must be at least 18 and meet one of 9 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.
Must work under the supervision of a teacher, must be at least 18, and meet one of the 9 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.
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.
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. All teachers and assistant teachers must be trained in first aid and CPR. The applicant must ensure that an annual in-service training plan is developed and implemented as required.
All staff who work with infants are required to complete sudden unexpected infant death training and all staff who work with children under school age must complete abusive head trauma training.
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:
Age: _______ Ratio: __ Group size:
Infant _______ 1:4 _________ 8
Toddler ______ 1:7 _________ 14
Preschooler___ 1:10 ________ 20
School age ___ 1:15 ________ 30
Child care program plan:
The applicant must develop a written child care program plan addressing supervision; age categories and number of children served; days and hours of operation; have stated goals and objectives; specify activities; documentation of each child's progress; and 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.
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 pick up of child; medical emergency; recording procedures; and annual analysis of center policies.
- Health policies. Applicant must have approved health policies; have a health consultant review the center's health policies annually, including first aid, safety, diapering and sanitation. 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.
- Risk reduction plan. The applicant must develop a risk reduction plan that assesses risks to children served by the center and establish procedures to minimize identified risks.
Parent information; personnel records; children's records; child care program plan; emergency and accident records; staff distribution schedule; separation reports; health consultant reports, and attendance 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.
Identifying information; parent's name, address, phone number and emergency contact information; persons authorized to pick up child; medical and emergency care; immunizations; attendance hours; diet; individual child care program plan; and parent conferences documentation.
. 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:
Outdoor activity meeting the specified requirements:
. including 1,500 square feet and at least 75 square feet per child;
. within 2,000 feet of the center;
. enclosed if adjacent to traffic and other hazards;
. free of litter and other hazards; and
. contain the required outdoor large muscle equipment.
The licensed capacity is limited by the amount of indoor space. A minimum of 35 square feet required for each child. Hallways, stairways, closets, utility rooms, lavatories, water closets, kitchens, and space occupied by cribs may not be counted as usable indoor space.
Toilets and sinks:
Toilets and sinks must be provided as follows:
. one sink and one toilet 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 required;
. fixtures must be placed at age-appropriate heights; and
. water temperatures must not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
. diaper changing areas must have a sink with hot and cold water within three feet of diaper changing surface.
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, non-folding 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.
The licensing application process:
To begin the 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 license fee; and
. submit required policies and procedures.
All individuals having direct contact with children in care must have a background study conducted by DHS. Before an initial license is issued, all controlling individuals 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.
Initial License Application Fee: The initial license application fee is $500. It is not prorated, is nonrefundable, and is in lieu of the annual license fee that expires on December 31. No application will be processed until the application fee is paid.
Annual License Fee: See Minn. Stat. § 245A.10.
Period of Issuance:
Except for the initial license which is 12 months or less and expires on December 31, licenses are issued for one year on a calendar year basis.
Length of Determination Process:
Minn. Stat. § 245A.04, subd. 1 requires that the Commissioner shall act on the application within 90 working days after a complete application and any required reports have been received from other state agencies or departments, counties, municipalities, or other political subdivisions.
Other Pertinent Information:
The following Minnesota Statutes apply to this service:
Minn. Stats. §§ 245A (Human Services Licensing Act), 245C (Human Services Background Study Act), 626.556 (Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors Act).
For more information about a child care center license application or if you would like to have an application sent to you, please contact the Licensing Division at (651) 431-6500.
For TTY communication, contact the Minnesota Relay Service at (800) 627-3529.