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Enhanced background studies

Federal law now require states to conduct criminal background studies on all individuals affiliated with license-exempt centers registered to receive Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) funding, legal non-licensed providers, licensed child care centers, and licensed family child care programs. Minnesota statutes guide different aspects of the background study process, with different organizational types required to initiate background studies. 

Beginning Sept. 15, the Department of Human Services will resume fingerprint-based background studies for all child care providers. The emergency background studies that DHS began conducting in April 2020 in response to COVID-19 are valid until July 2, 2022. For further information, visit transition from emergency studies to full compliance.   

Legislative clarifications

The 2019 Minnesota Legislature enacted these measures regarding child care background study subjects, study databases and study clearance notices.

  • The law clarifies when volunteers, contractors and others need a background study. This change does not impact household members or employees. DHS Licensing will provide more details in an upcoming implementation plan. 
  • Background studies for all adults and any individuals ages 17 and younger who are employed by a child care program will include a search of three additional name-based databases to meet federal requirements. DHS will initiate these additional searches; this will not impact what is required to be entered in NETStudy 2.0 and will not increase background study fees. 
  • The commissioner may issue a clearance notice for a background study subject if 1) another state has not responded to a request for criminal, sex offender, or maltreatment information after 10 days, and 2) the lack of a response from another state is the only reason that the study could not be cleared. (Effective July 1, 2019).

Needs assessments 

Different child care provider types have somewhat different processes and requirements. These guideline documents are intended to help provider determine which individuals need a background study: 

Databases searched

Enhanced background studies include searches of these databases:

  • State criminal and sex offender registries
  • State child abuse and neglect registry
  • Out-of-state criminal, sex offender, and child abuse and neglect registries (if applicable)
  • National Crime Information Center (NCIC) National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR)
  • FBI criminal history.

Implementation timeline

Enhanced background studies are being phased in using the NETStudy 2.0 system.

  • Beginning Sept 15, the Department of Human Services will resume fingerprint-based background studies for all child care providers. Providers are required to submit a fingerprint-based background study for all newly affiliated study subjects. You can also begin submitting enhanced background studies for current staff and household members who have not a DHS enhanced background study during the statewide rollout in late 2019 and 2020.   
  • On Dec. 1, child care providers are scheduled to begin submitting fingerprint-based studies for those who received an emergency study.
  • The emergency studies are valid until July 2, 2022. Individuals who received emergency studies will need to have a fully compliant study by July 2, 2022 to continue to work after that date. 

Role of counties

County licensing agencies will continue to play a key role in the enhanced background studies process, and will serve as the primary source for initiating all background studies through NETStudy 2.0 for providers and other individuals who are affiliated with licensed family child care programs. 

New household members and caregivers 

 As of Jan. 1, 2019, when a licensed provider notifies the county licensing agency of a new household member, a new caregiver, a substitute or other person needing a background study, the county licensing agency must initiate the background study process through the NETStudy 2.0 background study system.


County licensors will also initiate background studies for minors when a licensed provider notifies the county licensing agency that a minor is living in the household where the licensed program will be provided and the minor is not receiving licensed services from the program. Background studies for minors are based on the individual’s name and date of birth. Please note: While most minors (ages 13 to 17) living in the household will receive a background study based on the minor’s name and date of birth, a fingerprint-based FBI study will be required if the minor meets any of the following conditions:

  • The minor is paid by the provider.
  • The minor has a Minnesota criminal record.
  • There is reasonable cause to believe that the minor has a criminal record in another state.
  • Individuals 10 to 12 years of age who live in the household where the licensed services will be provided when the commissioner has reasonable cause as defined in Minn. Statute 245C.

Fees waived

DHS has funding available to continue pay the one-time costs associated with enhanced child care background studies for all child care provider types and affiliated individuals to help child care providers come into compliance with state and federal Child Care Development Block Grant requirements. Until further notice, providers will not be charged for enhanced child care background studies or fingerprinting and photo service fees.

Contact information

For general questions regarding background study requirements (such as, what the law requires, who needs a background study, what causes a person to be disqualified, how to get a copy of a result, why a study is not done yet, etc.), submit a Background Studies contact form or call the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Background Studies Division, at 651-431-6620.

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