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Applying for a Child Care Center License

In Minnesota, a child care provider is required by state law to obtain a license to operate a child care center unless the provider meets an exemption in state law. Licensure provides the necessary oversight to ensure child care is provided in a healthy and safe environment, by qualified people, and meets the developmental needs of all children in care. This webpage has been created to offer information on the process to obtain a child care center license in Minnesota.

Pre-application: Is a Child Care Center license right for you?

The decision to open a licensed child care center can be a complex one. For a prospective applicant that does not have business ownership experience, or one that is new to licensed child care, the pre-application stage is a perfect time to do some research. See below for considerations to help determine if owning and operating a licensed child care center is a good fit.

Licensed Child Care Center E-Learning Videos

This series of videos presents a high-level overview for individuals applying for a child care center license and important details to consider prior to submitting the license application. The key objective of this series of videos is providing support and information that allow the applicant to understand what licensed child care entails, how to ensure compliance with licensing requirements, and things to consider in planning for the operation of a child care center as a small business. Topics include defining licensed child care in Minnesota, key considerations that contribute to operating a successful child care center business, policies and procedures for licensed child care centers, staffing requirements for licensed child care centers, and more.

Information Session for Interested Applicants

The Child Care Center Licensing Unit offers a series of information sessions for individuals interested in applying for a child care center license. Each session features information on the different phases of the process to obtain a child care center license in Minnesota. Individuals may attend as few or as many of the sessions as desired. The series is offered quarterly.

Participation is not a requirement of the licensing process for child care centers. This series is intended to support applicants, provide guidance, and offer resources related to applying for a child care center license. It is recommended that individuals considering applying for a child care center license review the DHS Licensed Child Care Center E-Learning videos prior to registering for this information series. 

More information, including links to register, can be found on the main Child Care Center Licensing website.

What are the requirements for licensed child care centers?

Licensing requirements for child care centers help protect the health and safety of children by requiring that providers meet minimum standards for care and physical environment.  The requirements are in law and published by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.  

Phases of the application process for child care center licensure

The application process to get a child care center licensed in Minnesota can be broken into three phases to better illustrate the process.

  • Phase I - Submitting an application
  • Phase II - A review of the application by a licensor while the applicant works on completing application requirements, such as additional submissions, completing inspections, background studies and setting up the facility
  • Phase III - A pre-licensing inspection to verify all requirements have been met before the license can be granted

Applications are submitted through the Provider Hub. If you are an existing license holder applying for a new location, you will apply for a new center location on your existing account in the Provider Hub. If you are a new license holder that does not currently operate a licensed center, follow the steps below to create the new account.

  1. Navigate to the Provider Hub.
  2. Select Create an Account.
  3. Enter the required information and select Sign Up.
  4. Receive an email with instructions to create a password and finish creating your account.
  5. Navigate to the Apply for License or Certification tab from the Home Screen

*Note: At any point, if you need to pause completing the application, you need to click the "Save for later” tab to save your progress. When you click "Save for Later" you will need to either save the link or choose to have the link emailed to you.

Provider Hub Assistance

  • For technical questions about the Provider Hub, including issues registering for or accessing your account, please submit a case through the Provider Hub or call 651-431-6075.
  • For feedback about the Provider Hub, email the product team at

Licensing Assistance

Phase I

The first step in applying for a licensed child care center is submitting the application. See below for the items to include in your application submission.

The final stage of Phase I of the application process is when the application is assigned to a licensor who will work with the applicant through the rest of the application and pre-licensing process.

Phase II

This phase has many working parts that both licensors and applicants can be working on simultaneously. 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. The applicant will work directly with their licensor for support through this part of the application process.  

Phase III


Following the pre-licensing inspection, DHS licensing will review the entire application, including the documentation gathered during Phase II and the information from the pre-licensing inspection.   DHS has 90 days from the completion of all phases of the application process to either grant or deny the application to provide child care.

If the applicant is consistently unable to provide documentation of compliance with the requirements, withholds relevant information or provides false and misleading information in connection with the application, has a background study disqualification, or is unable to demonstrate competent knowledge of applicable requirements, DHS may deny the application.   

If the licensing requirements are met, a license is granted.  The center cannot serve children and families until the license has been issued by DHS.  Operating a child care center without a license is punishable by law.  The child care center license will expire on December 31 of each calendar year and must be renewed prior to this expiration date.

Contact the Child Care Licensing Unit

Email inboxes and phone lines are monitored Monday-Friday, daily from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. by a licensor who is on call. All voicemail messages and emails are returned as promptly as possible. Call us at 651-431-6015 or email us at

Licensed Child Care Center Website

The Department of Human Services licensed child care center website provides information, forms and resources for owners, administrators, and child care providers in Licensed Child Care Centers.
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