A certified center must provide documentation showing that a fire inspection was completed within the previous three years prior to obtaining certification.
Certified centers that need a fire marshal inspection will be required to pay $50 to the state fire marshal for the inspection.
Public school buildings
For centers located in a public school building, this is an existing requirement and you can provide documentation from your school.
Child care facilities not in a public school building
For centers NOT located in a public school building, an appropriate fire inspection will need to be completed prior to granting certification. DHS must request the fire inspection if one is needed. If you believe you need an inspection or have questions, please email us at email@example.com.
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.
Each center must have a unique emergency plan using the Child Care Emergency Plan form (PDF) (Word DOC) created by DHS. Centers are required to use this form and the form must be specific to each individual certified center.
Please note that the Child Care Emergency Plan form was revised in November of 2017. DHS will accept the original or revised version. If your certified center will serve infants or toddlers, an addendum is required to include accommodations for infants and toddlers.
Each center must develop a risk reduction plan that identifies risks to children served by the child care center. The assessment of risks must include risks presented by the physical plant where child care is provided, including any electrical hazards; and the environment, including the proximity to busy roads and bodies of water. The physical plant is considered your child care facility building and space within that is used by the child care center. The environment includes the outdoor space around the building that is used by the child care center.
The risk reduction plan provides an opportunity to evaluate the unique physical plant and environment of your certified center. When risks are identified and policies and procedures are proactively put in place, it can minimize the risks for children. All staff, substitute staff, and unsupervised volunteers must be informed of your risk reduction plan. Documentation must be kept to verify that staff have been informed of the risk reduction plan.
Changes for certified license-exempt child care center providers - effective Sept. 30, 2019
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
Certified centers must also inform the commissioner within:
Certified centers must comply with the reporting requirements for abuse and neglect as specified in Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 260E (Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors).
The DHS Maltreatment Investigations in DHS-licensed Programs webpage has additional information on:
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: Minnesota. Stat. 245H
Certified centers need to conduct DHS background studies on any new staff or individuals who need a study. These individuals are prohibited from providing direct contact services until DHS issues a notice stating otherwise. The notice will be available in NETStudy 2.0 as an electronic document. You must follow the requirements in the notices for these individuals. The study subject will receive one or more of the following notices: a clearance notice, a notice that more time is needed to complete the background study, or a notice of disqualification. The notice will provide information on whether or not the study subject must be supervised or is still not permitted to provide direct contact services.
Certified centers need to conduct DHS background studies on existing employees as notified to do so by the DHS Background Studies unit.
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:
For more information about background studies for certified centers, please visit:
For background study questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-431-6620, option 4
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 Orientation Training Record for Certified Centers.
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|
|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|
|Risk Reduction||Staff, substitutes, and unsupervised volunteers||Prior to unsupervised contact, and within 14 days.|
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 first day of direct contact with children:
Before having unsupervised direct contact with a child, but within the first 90 days of employment, and within 90 days after the first date of direct contact for substitutes and unsupervised volunteers, each person must successfully complete pediatric first aid and pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training.
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 under school age 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 Yearly In-Service Training Record for Certified Centers(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).
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) videos
The Department of Human Services has approved the following series of videos which can be used, but are not required when providing SUID training. Centers are responsible for meeting all SUID training requirements as outlined in MN Statutes, section 245H.14, subd. 2, including the standards in MN Statutes, section 245A.1435.
Please Note: The videos below include portrayals of infant sleep environments in private, non-licensed, homes that are not subject to the requirements of MN Statutes, section 245A.1435. Licensed child care providers must comply with statutory safe sleep requirements when sleeping infants including nothing in the crib except for an infant’s pacifier. In addition, attachments or modifications to the crib are prohibited.
Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) videos
The Department of Human Services has approved the following series of videos which can be used, but are not required when providing AHT training. Centers are responsible for meeting all AHT training requirements as outlined in MN Statutes, section 245H.14, subd. 3.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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. 260E
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.
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: