Who: Applicants Interested in Opening a New Licensed Child Care Center
What: A series of virtual information sessions on the process of applying for a child care center license presented by the Child Care Center Licensing Unit at the Department of Human Services
Registration: Please register for each of the virtual information sessions that you would like to attend. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the session.
Information Session 1 will provide:
Pre-application information for those considering applying for a MN child care center license and the initial steps of the application process.
Phase I: The first step in applying for a licensed child care center is submitting the application. Topics covered will include steps necessary to complete the initial application form and required supplemental documents. Time will be set aside for questions after the information has been provided.
Information Session 2 will provide:
Phase II: Information Session 2 will cover the many working parts that both licensors and applicants can be working on simultaneously after the application and documents have been submitted for review. There are many factors that affect how this phase is completed, some of which are the interaction of other agencies for required facility inspections, background studies, engaging a health consultant, and meeting equipment and supply requirements. Time will be set aside for questions after the information has been provided.
Information Session 3 will provide:
Phase III: Information Session 3 will provide information about preparing for the pre-licensing review conducted by a DHS licensor and what an applicant might expect to see and do during this review. Additional information will be shared about the responsibilities of a new license holder, particularly in the first year of licensure. A collection of resources will be shared that may support new license holders.
After a MN child care center license is granted, license holders are responsible for understanding what it means to be a license holder. We will share information that will support the license holder in understanding their first year of licensure and where to access various resources for child care centers. Time will be set aside for questions after the information has been provided.
Questions: If you have questions please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Main phone: 651-431-6500 Fax: 651-431-7673
To report possible licensing violations, contact the child care center licensor on call at 651-431-6500. A licensor on call answers phones Monday-Friday (excluding holidays) from 8 AM to 4:30 PM.
Background Studies Division: 651-431-6620
Mailing address: Minnesota Department of Human Services, Licensing Division, P.O. Box 64242, St. Paul, MN 55164-0242
Child care centers can subscribe to receive important information, including legislative changes, by email. The information will be periodically sent from DHS Licensing. Do not reply to emails sent to you, as they will not be read or forwarded for handling. Your email address is used only to deliver the information you requested.
Minnesota law requires certain individuals to have a completed background study in licensed child care programs. License holders are responsible for ensuring background studies are completed as required.
To assist you in determining whether an individual needs a background study, based on their role in the child care center, consult the Child Care Centers Background Study Worksheet.
The study for a background study subject who currently lives out of state or who has lived outside of Minnesota in the last five years requires search of the criminal, sex offender or maltreatment databases from the other state(s) where the individual lived during those five years. If another state has not responded to the requested information after at least 10 days since DHS submitted the request — and this is the only reason that the study could not be cleared — DHS can issue a clearance notice. This clearance notice may be rescinded if the results from the other state(s) contains disqualifying information.
As of September 30, 2019, anyone required to have a study cannot have direct contact with children until you have received a notice from DHS about the results of the background study. For a majority of studies, this process results in a clearance notice about two or three business days after the person is fingerprinted. The process takes longer if the results from one of the databases show the individual may have disqualifying information. In which case, the center will get a notice stating more time is needed to complete the study. The notice will indicate whether or not the person can work with or without supervision.
For more information on background studies for child care centers, please visit https://mn.gov/dhs/general-public/background-studies/faqs/ccdbg/.
Legal authority: Minnesota Statute, chapter 245C
Centers are required to use the DHS-created policy for reporting suspected child maltreatment. Previously, this document was optional and centers could create their own. Effective Sept. 30, 2019, you must use the DHS document. See Maltreatment of Minors Mandated Reporting Policy
Any individual engaging in licensing functions and activities, including authorities delegated under section 245A.16, must immediately report any suspected fraud to county human services investigators or the Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General.
Centers must use the fillable form Child Care Center Serious Injury and Death Reporting Form (PDF) (also in Word) to report any serious injury or death of a child in care.
The PDF version (when opened in Internet Explorer) is the preferred version for centers to use since it will automatically create an email and attach the completed form once the submit button is clicked. If you are unable to open in Internet Explorer or you need to use the Word DOC version, you will have to manually attach the completed form to the email before sending.
A serious injury is an injury that requires treatment by a physician or dentist. This means that if a child sees a physician or dentist for evaluation of an injury, but no treatment is given, the injury does not meet the definition of serious and does not need to be reported to DHS. Treatment does not include application of or recommendation to use nonprescription medication or diagnostic testing (such as x-rays).
For additional information on other child care center reporting requirements, please see Minnesota Rules, part 9503.0130. The Child Care Center Serious Injury & Death Reporting Form is to be used for reporting serious injuries and deaths only. Other types of information required to be reported to DHS under 9503.0130 can be done by submitting your center-specific form by email or fax, by calling the center’s assigned licensor or by calling the main Licensing Division number at 651-431-6500.
Each licensed child care center is required to have a health consultant to review all of the center’s health policies and practices. A health consultant is a physician, public health nurse, or registered nurse.
The center must have a health consultant review the center's health policies and practices and certify that they are adequate to protect the health of children in care.
The review must be done before initial licensure, submitted with the application for initial licensure and repeated every year after the date of initial licensure. For programs serving infants, this review must be done initially and monthly thereafter. Additionally, the license holder must request a review by the health consultant of the center's health policies and practices if there is a proposed change in the center's health policies or practices or an outbreak of contagious reportable illness. A copy of the consultant's findings must be placed in the center's administrative record.
Legal Authority: Minn. Rule 9503.0140 subp. 2
In addition to current requirements for first aid and safety policies and diapering procedures, centers must meet requirements for handling and disposing of potentially infectious bodily fluids, such as blood and vomit.
The licensed child care center must comply with the following procedures for safely handling and disposing of bodily fluids:
Before admitting a child for care, the center must obtain documentation of any known allergy from the child's parent or legal guardian or the child's source of medical care. If a child has a known allergy, the center must maintain current information about the allergy in the child's record and develop an individual child care program plan as specified in Minnesota Rules, part 9503.0065, subpart 3.
To comply, providers must:
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.41, subd. 1
Centers must have an emergency preparedness plan for emergencies that require evacuation, sheltering, and other protection of children. The plan must be written on a Child Care Emergency Plan PDF or Word DOC form developed by the commissioner and updated at least annually. Keeping Kids Safe DHS-7414 (PDF) includes detailed emergency planning resources for licensed child care centers.
An Emergency Plan Addendum has been created to add the federal requirement of addressing accommodations for infants and toddlers during an emergency and should be included in the Emergency Plan, if applicable. See Emergency Plan Addendum
Legal Authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.41, subd. 3
By law, a number of infectious diseases must be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health. Learn more about what to report and the methods for reporting.
For purposes of licensed child care centers, "supervision" means when a program staff person:
Legal Authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.02, subd. 18
Centers must allow an enrolled child’s parent or legal guardian access to their child at any time while the child is in care. This is in addition to the requirement to allow parents or legal guardians of enrolled children to visit the center any time during the hours of operation as specified in Minnesota Rules, part 9503.0095.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245A. 14, subd. 15
For the purposes of training requirements, the following roles are defined as:
"Substitute" means an adult who is temporarily filling a position as a director, teacher, assistant teacher, or aide in a licensed child care center for less than 240 hours total in a calendar year due to the absence of a regularly employed staff person.
"Staff person" means an employee of a child care center who provides direct contact services to children.
"Unsupervised volunteer" means an individual who:
Defining these roles in statute provides clarity for the training requirements in 245A.40 to those terms. The definition of staff person includes all employees who provide direct contact services to children. Parents or other volunteers who are always supervised and never alone with children are considered supervised volunteers and do not require training.
Licensed child care centers must establish a process for tracking substitute hours to ensure those who work more than 240 hours in a calendar year complete the required trainings. The 240 hours is site-specific. If a substitute works more than 240 hours in a calendar year, then the substitute needs all the training required of a staff person. The licensed child center must also establish a process for tracking volunteers to identify volunteers who are always supervised and those who are unsupervised at any time. An example of an unsupervised volunteer is a parent who accompanies a child to the bathroom and is not directly supervised by another staff person.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.40, subd.1a
The center director, staff persons, substitutes, and unsupervised volunteers must be given orientation training and successfully complete the training before starting assigned duties. According to MN Statutes, section 245A.40, subdivision 1, training for orientation cannot be used to meet in-service training requirements. Documentation of orientation is required.
The license holder must ensure that all required content is included in each orientation training requirement:
In addition, before having unsupervised direct contact with a child, the director and staff persons within the first 90 days of employment, and substitutes and unsupervised volunteers within 90 days after the first date of direct contact with a child, must complete:
In addition, the director and all staff persons, substitutes, and unsupervised volunteers shall complete child development and learning within the first 90 days of employment:
Legal Authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.40 Subd. 1 and Minn. Stat. 245A.40 Subd. 10
The center director, staff persons, substitutes, and unsupervised volunteers must receive ongoing training each calendar year according to MN Statute, section 245A.40, subdivision 7. Documentation of in-service training is required.
Training topics to be completed each calendar year:
Each year or when a change is made, whichever is more frequent, training must be provided on:
Training topics to be completed every other calendar year:
Training topics to be completed every 5 calendar years:
The remaining hours of the in-service training requirement must be met by completing training in the following content areas of the Minnesota Knowledge and Competency Framework:
In-service training completed by a staff person that is not specific to that child care center is transferable upon a staff person's change in employment to another child care program.
Legal Authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.40, subd. 7
Ongoing training required every other calendar year (not counted toward in-service training hours)
Legal Authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.40, subd. 3
Legal Authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.40, subd. 4
You must document and maintain on site, completed training for the director, staff persons, substitutes and unsupervised volunteers. Documentation must also be available that shows the individual’s start date, date of first direct contact with children and date of first unsupervised direct contact with children. Direct contact means when the individual begins assisting in the care of a child. Unsupervised direct contact means when the individual begins assisting in the care of a child without any supervision by a staff person. As is current practice, for employees hired prior to Sept. 30, 2019, licensors will look to see that employee documentation includes the start date and date of first direct contact with children. For employees hired after Sept. 30, 2019, licensors will look to see that employee documentation includes the start date, date of first direct contact with children and date of first unsupervised direct contact with children. The license holder must ensure that documentation identifies the number of hours completed for each topic with a minimum training time identified, if applicable, and that all required content is included.
To assist in the required documentation of in-service training each calendar year, the Licensed Child Care Center Yearly In-Services Training Record form has been developed.
Legal Authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.40 subd. 10
Pre-licensing inspections are completed as part of the licensing process. DHS will initiate requests with the city’s zoning administrator, along with building, fire, and health inspections prior to a visit from your licensor prior to opening your program.
DHS Licensing conducts unannounced inspections of licensed child care centers on an annual basis. Conducting annual inspections allows us to provide more one-on-one technical assistance, answer questions, and assist you in better understanding the licensing standards.
When you receive a Notice of Re-inspection (NOR), follow the instructions and return it to your licensor. You will continue to receive a NOR in the months prior to your inspection.
DHS Licensing issues amended correction orders when one or more violations on a correction order are rescinded as a result of the licensed center’s request for reconsideration from DHS. This practice is now required by state law. DHS will continue to distribute the reconsideration decision and amended correction order, when applicable, to the licensed center.
The department posts results of all child care licensing inspections on Licensing Information Lookup.
The aggregate number of deaths, serious injuries, and instances of substantiated maltreatment that occurred in licensed child care settings each year are also posted publicly on the MN Parent Aware website.
Licensors are required to issue a fix-it ticket for certain violations identified by the Commissioner that do not imminently endanger the health, safety, or rights of children. The list of violations eligible for a fix-it ticket was expanded by the Commissioner effective April 15, 2019.
A fix-it ticket will be issued for each eligible violation if you did not receive a fix-it ticket or correction order for the same violation at your last annual licensing inspection. The fix-it ticket provides an opportunity for the center to correct eligible violations and avoid receiving a correction order for these violations if they are corrected within the allotted timeframe.
Upon receipt of a fix-it ticket, you may:
If the center does not correct the violation onsite or within 48 hours and/or fails to submit evidence that the violation was corrected, the licensor must issue a correction order for the violation(s) listed in the fix-it ticket.
The fix-it ticket does not have its own appeal rights. If you disagree with a fix-it ticket violation, you can choose to not respond to the fix-it ticket within the allotted time and the licensor will issue a correction order for the violation. Upon receipt of a correction order, you will have the right to request reconsideration.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.065
Exit interviews are required as a part of annual licensing inspections. Effective Sept. 30, 2019, licensors cannot issue a correction order or other licensing action for violations of rule or law that are not discussed during an exit interview, unless the provider does not participate in or complete the exit interview. Licensors must offer an alternative time to complete the exit interview if it cannot be completed at the conclusion of an annual licensing review/inspection. The exit interview is an opportunity for you to discuss the licensing review/inspection with your licensor. The goal is to have open communication and transparency about licensing requirements in order to assist you in achieving ongoing compliance. If you do not participate in the alternate date, or return the phone call or email of your licensor, the correction order or other licensing action will be completed without additional discussion.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.04, subd. 4
For licensing purposes, a license holder must maintain and store records in a manner that will allow for review by the commissioner. The following records must be maintained as specified and in accordance with applicable state or federal law, regulation, or rule:
A license holder who ceases to provide services must maintain all records related to the licensed program for five years from the date the program closes. The license holder must notify when the commissioner of the location where the licensing records will be stored and the name of the person responsible for maintaining the stored records.
If the ownership of a licensed program or service changes, the transferor, unless otherwise provided by law or written agreement with the transferee, is responsible for maintaining, preserving, and making available to the commissioner on demand the license records generated before the date of the transfer.
In the event of a contested case, the license holder must retain records as required in paragraph (a) or until the final agency decision is issued and the conclusion of any related appeal, whichever period is longer.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245A.041, subdivision 3
A variance may be granted by the commissioner for requirements in licensing rules that do not affect the health or safety of persons in a licensed program if certain conditions are met. In licensed child care centers, variance requests can be submitted for requirements to Rule 3 (Chapter 9503).
Examples of variances that have been requested by child care centers:
Variance requests must be submitted to your licensor on a specific form - the Variance Request DHS-3141 (PDF).
When reviewing a variance request, DHS considers the staff person’s experience, post-secondary education, and level of professional development training, including but not limited to steps completed on the Minnesota Career Lattice.
In addition, the staff person must be at least 18 years of age and hold a high school diploma or general education development certificate. Centers can submit a variance request for an individual to work in the capacity of director, teacher, or assistant teacher, while the individual completes additional training, post-secondary education, and/or gains additional experience hours while working in your center.
There are two types of staff qualification variance requests that will be considered:
Track 1 variances:
This variance is for staff who are working toward meeting one of the qualification options for director, teacher, or assistant teacher in Rule 3, such as completing the minimum number of applicable college credits, a Child Development Associate credential (CDA), a Bachelor’s degree, etc., and/or gaining additional hours of experience.
When requesting one of these variances, submit the following to your licensor:
Track 2 variances:
This variance is for staff who have experience working in a licensed child care center, have completed a minimum number of training hours from a list of approved training organizations and through the development of an individualized Professional Development Plan, have committed to completing additional training from the approved list of training organizations each calendar year. DHS Licensing partnered with DHS Child Development Services to create the list of approved training that aligns with quality training organizations approved by Achieve, the Minnesota Center for Professional Development.
In the 2018 legislative session, the DHS commissioner was given authority to approve additional variances for staff qualifications in an effort to respond to child care center workforce shortages around the state. As a result, the Track 2 variance was created to provide centers with more opportunities to hire and promote competent staff by recognizing work experience and quality, non-credit based professional development training.
When requesting one of these variances, submit the following to your licensor:
After a Track 2 variance is approved, your licensor will review the individual’s progress for ongoing training as outlined in the Professional Development Plan. If the individual does not complete the training as required, the variance approval may be rescinded and the individual could no longer work in the position approved through the variance.
A flow chart was developed as a tool to walk you through the process to better understand how the Track 1 and Track 2 variance processes are intended to work. If you have questions, please contact your licensor, call our main phone line at 651-431-6500 to speak to a licensor on call, or send an email to email@example.com.
The following rules and statutes guide licensing activities:
Licensed Child Care Centers: Minnesota Rules, Chapter 9503
Certified License-Exempt Child Care Centers: Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 245H
Human Services Licensing Act: Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 245A
Human Services Background Studies Act: Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 245C
Maltreatment of Minors Act: Minnesota Statutes, section 626.556
Qualifications are determined by a combination of education and experience. The Personnel Information Form (PDF) will assist you in maintaining documentation of each staff person's qualifications. This list of accepted post-secondary courses to determine teacher and assistant teacher qualifications in licensed child care centers is based on MN Rules, part 9503.0030, subp. 1.B.
The capacity on your license refers to the number of children you are licensed to serve. Your capacity is determined by multiple factors including your city zoning requirements, fire and building code requirements, the size of the physical space used to provide child care in your facility and your ability to meet equipment requirements. For further information: