The Department of Human Services (DHS), Licensing Division is pleased to announce that we have completed Annual Certification Reviews for a pilot group consisting of 18 certified centers. The goal of the pilot was to practice conducting annual reviews with a small group of centers to be able to assess the process and functions of our systems and to learn how to best prepare all certified centers for annual reviews.
As a result of our pilot, we would like to share information with all center operators about how to prepare for an annual review, what to expect during the annual review, and share some key takeaways from the pilot.
Annual Review Process
Certified centers will have an inspection each calendar year to determine compliance with standards in 245H. Annual reviews will be announced and coordinated between center operators and DHS. The review process will begin with a phone call to the center operator from a DHS licensor to verify and gather information useful to scheduling the onsite visit such as:
Following the phone call, the licensor will send an email requesting staffing information and schedule the visit(s).
In 2019, for certified centers who onboarded into certification in 2018, licensors will provide center operators documentation showing the results of the first monitoring review. This report will not be a correction order and will not be posted on the public Licensing Information Lookup website. Additionally, after the visit(s), licensors will schedule an exit interview with the center operator to provide technical assistance and discuss findings.
Preparing for your Review
Licensors will be using an electronic checklist during annual reviews to monitor compliance with the requirements found in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 245H. We have posted a copy of the information from that checklist on our Certified Child Care Centers webpage. It is recommended that site directors review the items on the checklist in preparing for our visit.
Records can be reviewed at a central location or at each individual site. The licensor will coordinate with center operators prior to the visit to arrange the review of staff records.
In preparing documentation, be aware that licensors will be looking for both training and staff file information.
If substitutes are used, they should be included in your list of staff and documentation of their required trainings should be kept in the personnel records.
Helpful Tips and Hints
A couple suggestions that came from the pilot participants:
Mandated reporting suggestions:
Clarifications and Helpful Information
Calendar year vs. school year
245H calls for specific documents to be reviewed each year and trainings to be completed each year. We learned in the pilot that there could be confusion in the interpretation of “year” for programs who operate during the school year. For the purposes of certification, each year means each calendar year and not each school year.
Centers are also required to conduct, at least quarterly, one evacuation drill and one shelter-in-place drill. We will implement the quarterly system to be seasonal quarters. Fall, winter, spring, and summer quarter will be as follows:
As a result of the pilot feedback, we are working on creating an optional form that centers can use to track these drills. Centers can use their own documentation system as well. During annual reviews, licensors will look for documentation of one evacuation drill (such as a fire drill) and one shelter-in-place drill (such as a tornado drill) conducted quarterly. Drills need to be conducted during the center’s hours of operation and documentation of the drills needs to include the date and time the drill occurred.
Posting of contagious illness
In 245H.13, it states that centers “must post or give notice to the parent or legal guardian of an exposed child the same day the program is notified of a child's contagious reportable disease.” It was brought to our attention that this is difficult for some centers due to it being in conflict with district directions/requirements. Until there is a law change, licensors will monitor for compliance with this requirement.
Immunization reports access
In 245H.13, it states “by a child's date of attendance, the certified center must maintain or have access to a record detailing the child's current immunizations or applicable exemption.” Licensors will monitor for compliance with this requirement by checking immunization records for a random sample of children in attendance. This will be a small sample, but we will need to see the actual immunization record for a sample of children which will demonstrate a center’s overall compliance. We will not be evaluating the immunization records for accuracy regarding the immunization information, but rather simply verifying that there is a record for each child in the sample.
245H.13, subdivision 4 contains information on requirements for preventing and responding to allergies. If a child has a known allergy the center must:
245H.13 states that the center must document administration of medication that includes the “name and signature of the person who administered the medicine.” We will accept name and initials, but the form cannot have initials only. If there is only space on the form for initials, there needs to be a key that indicates the name associated with the initials.
Make sure you are disposing of or returning any expired medication or medication for a child who is no longer in attendance.
All certified centers will have an inspection each year to determine compliance with standards in 245H. Annual reviews will be announced and coordinated between the center operators and DHS. As you prepare for your certification review, please look at our Certification checklist which contains the items we will be looking for on a review.
DHS is preparing to implement the enhanced background studies that will impact all licensed child care programs starting this fall. This also impacts all certified licensed-exempt centers. (Non-licensed providers participating in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) are also impacted by these changes.) These new enhanced background studies are required by changes in federal law. For more information on the new study requirements, go to Minnesota child care provider background studies.
The federal Office of Child Care has informed states that they are able to use certain child care block grant funds to help providers pay for the new enhanced background studies.
Accordingly, DHS will pay for the cost of the new background studies for existing providers and their staff/family members who already have a current background study when the new enhanced studies are rolled out. (Non-licensed providers participating in CCAP will also have their costs covered and will receive a separate letter from DHS.)
A certified center must provide documentation showing that a fire inspection was completed within the previous three years prior to obtaining certification.
For centers located in a public school building, this is an existing requirement and you can provide documentation from your school. Often a correction order is issued as the result of a public school inspection. In this case, the school would receive a follow up inspection form stating that corrections were made/they passed. It is recommended that you reach out to your appropriate school district staff to obtain this documentation now.
For centers NOT located in a public school building, a fire inspection will need to be completed prior to granting certification. DHS reached out to the center operators for these centers and is requesting inspections. If you believe you need an inspection or have questions, please email us at email@example.com
The Summary of Personnel Information form for Certified - Initial Certification (PDF) is the form center operators will submit to demonstrate compliance with staff training requirements.
The center operator will need to submit a list of each center’s current staffing at the point in time the center receives access to the online platform. In other words, the staff you list on your summary of personnel information form will depend upon when you receive access to the online platform. We will want to see training completed for staff who are currently working in your center.
Depending on the ages of the children served by your center, your staff may or may not be required to complete sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) or abusive head trauma (AHT) training. Please refer to your guidance document if you are unsure. If your staff does not need to complete those trainings, leave those columns blank.
Finally, if you are a center operator who oversees multiple sites that will be certified, you will be able to use one form for all staff. At the top of the form, there is a space to list multiple certification numbers. Once you receive access to the online platform, you will be given certification site numbers for each of your center locations.
Prior to being granted certification, each center will be required to submit the center’s policies and procedures to demonstrate compliance with the certification requirements. It is highly recommended that centers use the Guidelines for Developing Policies and Procedures (PDF) to create the required policy sections with the specific information indicated.
In the online platform, center operators will be given the opportunity to indicate if the policies are the same for all the centers under one center operator. A certification holder with multiple centers will not need to have separate policies for each physical location.
Policies for exclusion of sick children must include:
Policies for infectious disease outbreak control should minimally include a plan for notifying parents of an exposure. The notification:
Certified centers must have a policy for administering medication and maintain documentation of staff training on the medication administration policy. Medication includes prescription and nonprescription medication.
If the program chooses not to administer medication, the policy must state medication is not administered.
If the program chooses to administer medication, the policy for administering medication must include:
The department does not have a specific form for recording the administration of medication. Programs must document the administration of medication. Documentation must include:
It is recommended that the written permission and record of medication administration are kept in the child’s file for a minimum of three years.
Diapering products, sunscreen, and insect repellent must have written permission from the child's parent or legal guardian. Sunscreen and insect repellant must be stored out of reach of children. School age children can apply sunscreen under the supervision of staff who need to ensure the nonprescription medication is administered according to the manufacturer or health provider instructions.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.13, Subd. 3
Policies for preventing and responding to allergies must require that by the first date a child attends a center, documentation of any known allergy is obtained from each child's parent or legal guardian. This can be included in enrollment forms or any required health care paperwork.
If a child has a known allergy (any allergy), the center must meet these three requirements.
1. Maintain current information about the allergy in the child's record. The child specific information must include:
2. Ensure that each staff person who works directly with the child is trained in the allergy information. Documentation that staff were informed must be kept on site. It is required that staff are informed:
3. Keep the child’s allergy information available:
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.13, subd 4
Fire inspection. Prior to being granted certification, a center must provide documentation showing that a fire inspection was completed within the previous three years by the state fire marshal or local fire code inspector trained by the state fire marshal.
Designated indoor and outdoor space. The certified center must maintain a floor plan of the building that shows where the primary indoor and outdoor spaces utilized by the center are located within/near the building.
Free of hazards. The certified center must ensure:
Hazardous items must be kept out of reach. Anything labeled keep out of reach of children should be inaccessible. Locked cabinets or closets are recommended, but not required. Certified centers are required to have an emergency plan (see emergency preparedness and response section below) which has a section on identification of hazards. When creating the policy for ensuring the center is free of hazards, ensure that it does not contradict the information in the written emergency plan.
Disposal of bodily fluids. If an exposure to bodily fluids occurs, the center must disinfect and dispose of any bodily fluids using gloves and in a securely sealed plastic bag.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.13, Subd.5
It is also required that staff are trained at orientation and at least once each calendar year on the center-specific emergency plan (see staff training section below regarding the required training and documentation of training).
Certified centers must conduct one evacuation and one shelter-in-place drill quarterly and document the time and date of the drills.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.15
Centers must have policies that include:
Certified centers must comply with the reporting requirements for abuse and neglect specified in Minnesota Statutes, section 626.556 (Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors). A person mandated to report physical or sexual child abuse or neglect occurring within a licensed center must report the information to DHS. See Maltreatment of minors mandated reporting policy for information on who is mandated to report, where to report, what to report and failure to report.
Certified centers must also inform the commissioner within:
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.11
Centers must include a statement in both the staff and parent policies that a parent or legal guardian must be allowed access to their child at any time their child is in care.
Legal authority: Miinn. Stat. 245H
Certified centers need to initiate a BGS request for all new employees hired on or after November 1, 2018, before that employee has direct contact with children. These staff persons will require supervision until the BGS has cleared. They may not work alone with children without a cleared BGS.
Certified centers will not need to conduct BGS on existing employees until they are notified to do so by the DHS Background Studies unit. Centers will be given a specific timeframe for submitting these BGS requests.
Draft guidance is now available to help providers determine who needs a background study. If you would like to offer feedback about ways this guidance document can be improved, please send an email to DHS.CCDFReform@state.mn.us.
The following costs apply for background study subjects:
A staff person must be 16 years of age or older before providing direct, unsupervised care to a child. Supervised care means an individual is within sight or hearing to the extent that the program’s supervision individual is capable at all times of intervening to protect the health and safety of the person served by the program.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.08
Certified centers in a building with license exempt, licensed, and/or other programs cannot mix children from separate programs.
For example, if a school district has a licensed program for preschoolers, a license-exempt school readiness program for preschoolers, and a certified program for school ages all in one building, the children in these various programs cannot combine. They would be able to use shared spaces such as a gym or outdoor playground, but would need a schedule to ensure they are not using at the same time.
Certified centers under one certification holder cannot mix children, except under certain circumstances. The certification number is site specific. Wherever you are operating and children are attending, the child needs to be enrolled/authorized to be at that location AND that location is the certified program responsible. For example, if a school district has five certified centers at five separate locations and they want to combine into one location for summer, they would need to enroll all the children from the other four locations at the one location for summer. This would involve notifying CCAP to change authorization information for any child that is changing locations.
During hours of operation, a certified center must have a director or designee on site who is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of program participants and supervising staff and volunteers. The designee does not have to meet director requirements, but does need to know that they are responsible in the absence of the director. The designee does not need to be the same person each time the director is not present.
The director must be 18 years of age or older and have completed at least 16 hours of training per requirements listed in 245H.08, subd. 02.
The center must complete a Director Information Form (PDF) for its director, and the form must be kept on file at the center.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.08, subd. 2
Certification standards do not require that certified centers maintain attendance records, however Minnesota Statutes 119B.125, Subd. 6 requires all providers that receive child care assistance payments to keep daily attendance records at the site where services are delivered for children receiving child care assistance. Programs must make records available immediately to the county or the commissioner upon request. The attendance records must be completed daily and include the date, the first and last name of each child in attendance, and the times when each child is dropped off and picked up. To the extent possible, the times that the child was dropped off to and picked up from the child care provider must be entered by the person dropping off or picking up the child. The daily attendance records must be retained at the site where services are delivered for six years after the date of service.
Having a system for children being signed into and out of your center will clarify when a center is responsible for a child and when the child is the responsibility of another program or service. For example,
|Age category||Definition of age category||Maximum group size||Staff-to-child ratio|
|Infant||Six weeks old through 16-months old||8||1:4|
|Toddler||16-months to 33-months old||14||1:7|
|Preschool||33 months through prekindergarten||20||1:10|
|School age||Kindergarten through age 13||30||1:15|
Kindergarten includes a child of sufficient age to have attended the first day of kindergarten or who is eligible to enter kindergarten within the next four months.
Maximum group size is the maximum number of children that can be involved in a group activity at any one time. The maximum group size applies at all times except during
Maximum group size applies to instances where all children are participating in one activity. This would not include having more than the maximum group size in a space participating in different activities. For example, 90 school age children could be in one cafeteria space as long as they are participating in three or more separate activities (note exceptions above).
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 234H.08, subd. 4
Ratios must be maintained based on age category. When combining age categories, the ratio for the age category for the youngest child in the group applies.
Examples of mixing children in different age categories:
The certified center is required to maintain a personnel record for each staff person that contains:
Annual inspections of certified centers are announced. If personnel records are housed off site or at a centralized location, records should be gathered prior to the scheduled review.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H16
Certified centers must ensure each staff person is given an orientation training on:
The certified center must provide staff with an orientation within 14 days of employment. Before the completion of orientation, a staff person must be supervised while providing direct care to a child.
A certified center must document the date of a completed training required by this section in the personnel record of each staff person. It is recommended that a center uses the Staff Orientation Training Checklist (PDF).
Health and safety standard requirement in 245H.13 (see requirements outlined in the Health and Safety section above) include:
Additionally, staff must complete certain training before caring for children and/or prior to unsupervised contact.
|Training topic||Who must complete||When completion required|
|SUID||Staff and volunteers caring for infants under age 1||Prior to caring for infants under 1|
|AHT||Staff and volunteers caring for children under age 5||Prior to caring for children through age 4|
|Child development||Staff||Prior to unsupervised contact, and within 14 days|
|Emergency preparedness||Staff||Prior to unsupervised contact, and within 14 days|
|Reporting||Staff||Prior to unsupervised contact, and within 14 days|
|Pediatric first aid and CPR||At least one designated staff person who has completed pediatric first aid and CPR must be present at all times at the center, during field trips, and when transporting a child|
Staff must be trained at orientation and at least annually on these topics; substitutes must be trained if working in lieu of staff; training must take place before unsupervised contact and within 14 days of hire:
At all times at the center, during field trips and when transporting a child, at least one designated staff person must be trained in pediatric first aid and pediatric CPR.
Staff and volunteers who care for infants under age 1 must be trained in Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). Must be completed before assisting in the care of infants, and be done annually.
Staff and volunteers who care for children through age 4 must be trained annually in Abusive Head Trauma (AHT). Must be completed before assisting in the care of a child, and be done annually.
Minn. Stat. 245H also requires certified center staff to complete ongoing training. Each staff person must complete annual training requirements. See Staff In-service Training Record (PDF). Each calendar year, each staff person needs to have at least six hours of training.
Required trainings (both at orientation and annually) may be used toward the hourly training requirements of this subdivision.
College courses can be counted toward in service training if the coursework would apply to the staff person’s job. One semester credit is equivalent to 15 hours of training.
A certified center must document the date, training institution, and hours for any completed training in the personnel record for each staff person. It is recommended that a center use the Staff In-service Training Record (PDF).
Use the Minnesota State Child Care Emergency Plan, DHS-7415 (PDF) and Keeping Kids Safe: Child Care Provider Emergency Planning Guide DHS-7414 (PDF) when preparing for your response to emergencies and disasters. Each center must have a unique emergency plan using the Child Care Emergency Plan form (PDF) (Word DOC) created by DHS.This frequently asked questions document (PDF) is also an important resource for child care centers.
The certified center must inform the commissioner within 24 hours of the death of a child in care at the program; and a “serious injury” to a child in the program. A “serious injury” is defined as an injury to a child that required treatment by a physician (includes dentist). If a child goes to a doctor, but does not require treatment, it would not be considered a serious injury.
The center must use the Child Care Center Serious Injury & Death Report Form (PDF) (Word DOC) found on the Certified Centers webpage. Please note, Internet Explorer or Edge are the preferred browser types to use with this form. If you use Chrome, the send button will not work on the form. You can, however, email the form directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main phone: 651-431-6500 Fax: 651-431-7673
Mailing address: Minnesota Department of Human Services, Licensing Division, P.O. Box 64242, St. Paul, MN 55164-0242
To report maltreatment of a child, contact Central Intake: 651-431-6600.
Maltreatment fax: 651-431-7601
Background Studies Division: 651-431-6620
The Certified License-Exempt Child Care email list provides licensing information and updates, including legislative requirements, for certified license-exempt child care centers.
To remain in compliance as a certified child care center with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, all changes to the terms of your certification must be requested and approved.
Changes are requested using the Change in Certification Information Form which is site specific and needs to be provided by your licensor.
The following are examples of changes made using the Change in Certification Information Form. To make these types of changes to your certification, please contact your licensor.
Since many certified centers are affiliated with a school and experience seasonal changes as children transition from the school year to summer or summer to school year, we have created a Notice Seasonal Change Form. This form is for center operators to use to communicate site and schedule changes for one or more center location(s) for summer/fall. Please complete this form as needed and email it to your licensor.
The following rules and statutes guide licensing activities:
DHS is mandated to certify license-exempt child care centers that meet the requirements under 245H.02. As such, DHS is given the right of access to these centers to carry out all of the duties under 245H – in other words, once a center has been identified as requiring certification, DHS has the right to enter the center to perform required duties.
DHS access. When a center is in operation and information is relevant to an inspection or investigation, the DHS employee must be given access to:
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.04
Annual announced inspections. Certified centers will have an annual inspection to determine compliance with standards in 245H. Annual inspections will be announced and coordinated between center operators and DHS.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.05
Investigations. In some instances where DHS has received information of alleged certification violations or maltreatment, there may be an unannounced investigation visits to the certified center:
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 626.556
Correction orders. If the certification holder failed to comply with a law, the commissioner may issue a correction order. The correction order must state the condition that constitutes a violation of the law, the specific law violated, and the time allowed to correct each violation. If the certification holder believes that the commissioner's correction order is erroneous, the certification holder may ask the commissioner to reconsider the part of the correction order that is allegedly erroneous.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.06
Decertification. The commissioner may decertify a center if a certification holder failed to comply with an applicable law; or knowingly withheld relevant information from or gave false or misleading information to the commissioner in connection with an application for certification, in connection with the background study status of an individual, during an investigation, or regarding compliance with applicable laws. When considering decertification, the commissioner must consider the nature, chronicity, or severity of the violation of law. When a center is decertified, the center is ineligible to receive payments from the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) under Minnesota Statutes 119B.
Legal authority: Minn. Stat. 245H.07
The Department of Human Services has approved the following series of videos to meet the SUID component when individuals are not receiving face-to-face, classroom, or online SUID training. All videos must be viewed to meet the SUID training requirement
The Department of Human Services has approved the following series of videos to meet the AHT component when license holders are not receiving face-to-face, classroom, or online AHT training. All videos must be viewed to meet the AHT training requirement.
Date of employment. The date that the employee becomes employed with the certified center is the date of employment.
Direct contact. Face-to-face care, training, supervision, counseling, or meditation assistance to persons served by the program. See Minn. Stat. 245C.02, subd. 11.
First date of supervised direct contact. The date that a staff person or volunteer first has direct contact and is under continuous, direct supervision.
First date of unsupervised direct contact. The date that a staff person or volunteer first has direct contact and is not under continuous, direct supervision.
Supervision of staff (staffing requirement). Continuous, direct supervision means an individual is within sight or hearing to the extent that the program's supervising individual is capable at all times of intervening to protect the health and safety of the persons served by the program.
The 2017 Minnesota Legislature enacted changes to bring Minnesota into compliance with the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant. Minnesota Statutes, Section 245H requires license-exempt centers that receive CCAP to be certified. The following exclusions from licensure under the following exclusions from 245A.03, Subd. 2 (and chooses to participate in CCAP) must be certified: