Minnesota law (Minnesota Statutes, chapter 245A) starts with requiring that all individuals or organizations providing child care are licensed.
Minnesota Statutes, section 245A.03, subdivision 2 includes a limited list of situations where individuals or organizations caring for children are not required to be licensed. These exceptions are referred as exclusions from licensure, and the care is referred to as license-exempt child care. License-exempt child care is not regulated or monitored by the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Minnesota Statutes, Section 245H requires license-exempt child care to become certified in order to participate in the State’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Therefore, a license-exempt child care center that becomes certified is referred to as a certified license-exempt child care center. DHS regulates and monitors certified license-exempt child care centers. License-exempt child care that does not become certified is not eligible to participate in CCAP.
The following exclusions from licensure describe programs that care for children and are not required to be licensed under the authority of Minnesota Statues, section 245A.03, subdivision 2:
|Minnesota Statues, section 245A.03, subdivision 2, item (5)||Programs operated by a public school for children 33 months or older.|
|Minnesota Statues, section 245A.03, subdivision 2, item (11)||Recreation programs for children or adults that are operated or approved by a park and recreation board whose primary purpose is to provide social and recreational activities.|
|Minnesota Statues, section 245A.03, subdivision 2, item (12)||Programs operated by a school as defined in section 120A.22, subdivision 4; YWCA as defined in section 315.44; or JCC as defined in section 315.51, whose primary purpose is to provide child care or services to school-age children.|
|Minnesota Statues, section 245A.03, subdivision 2, item (13)||Head Start nonresidential programs which operate for less than 45 days in each calendar year.|
|Minnesota Statues, section 245A.03, subdivision 2, item (15)||Programs for children such as scouting, boys clubs, girls clubs, and sports and art programs, and non-residential programs for children provided for a cumulative total of less than 30 days in any 12-month period.|
|Minnesota Statues, section 245A.03, subdivision 2, item (18)||Camps licensed by the commissioner of health under Minnesota Rules, Chapter 4630.|
|Minnesota Statues, section 245A.03, subdivision 2, item (26)||An accredited program serving only children who are age 33 months or older that is operated by a non-public school for no more than 4 hours per day per child, with no more than 20 children at any one time. The accrediting agency may be either an agency that is formally recognized by the commissioner of education as a non-public school accrediting organization; or be an accrediting agency that requires background studies and that receives and investigated complains about the services provided.|
Minnesota Statutes, section, 245H.02 calls out these specific exclusions from licensure that allow a program to be eligible to become certified and participate in Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). In order to apply for certification, a program must meet one of those exclusions from licensure.
For more information on exclusions and eligibility for certification specific to a program’s unique circumstances, contact DHS licensing at 651-431-6500 or email@example.com.
License-exempt certified child care centers can serve children and families using Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) funding. A family who is authorized to receive CCAP assistance for child care costs, can only send their child to receive care at a program that is authorized to receive CCAP payments. In Minnesota, CCAP only authorizes licensed child care centers, licensed family child care providers, certified license-exempt child care centers, and legal non-licensed child care providers.
Certification requirements provide standards for practices that ensure healthy and safe child care. Certification requirements are based on federal standards.
DHS licensing staff is available to support certified license-exempt child care centers in becoming certified and maintaining certification. Each center has an assigned licensor.
The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is a state government program administered by local, county or tribal governments that provides financial assistance to help eligible families with low incomes pay for child care so that they can work, pursue employment, or engage in education leading to employment. A large percentage of this funding comes from federal funding through the Child Care Development Block Grant.
Once a center is granted certification, the certified child care center is eligible to register with CCAP as a provider. Once registered, the center can receive subsidized payments for child care for children whose families are eligible to receive child care assistance.
For more information about CCAP visit the DHS Child Care Assistance webpage.
For questions about the Child Care Assistance Program: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-431-4848 If you want to apply, have questions about applying for child care assistance or a specific case, contact your county office, tribal office or contracted agency.
The Certification Pre-application Information Form is the first step required to become a certified child care center in Minnesota. A single Certification Pre-application Information Form can be used for one organization to start the application process for one or more center locations.
It is advised that applicants fill out the Pre-application Information Form electronically. New fields appear when check boxes or buttons are selected. If the pre-application is printed out before it has been completed, some fields may not appear in the printed version.
Note: The form is designed to be completed in Internet Explorer. Open the electronic form option and complete the required fields. Save the form to your computer. Send the form as an email attachment to email@example.com. If using another internet browser (i.e., Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge), complete the form in the following way: 1) Save the Pre-application Information Form to the computer as a PDF file by clicking the “download the PDF” option below the electronic form link, 2) fill it out using a compatible PDF application (such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader), 3) Save form again after completing the required fields, and 4) send the completed form as an email attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For troubleshooting and frequently asked questions about completing the electronic form, see the DHS frequently asked questions website for publications and forms.
Accurately identifying the organization and individuals responsible for the administration and operation of a certified license-exempt child care center is a significant step in completing the Pre-Application Information Form. The roles identified on the pre-application are verified by the DHS Licensing Division and entered into the licensing system as the legal entities for the certified center. Use the definitions below to complete the Pre-application Information Form:
Once the pre-application form is complete, return the pre-application form to DHS by email: email@example.com OR by mail: DHS Division of Licensing, Attn: Certification, PO Box 64242, St. Paul, MN 55164-0242.
The final stage of Phase I of the application process occurs when the pre-application form is received and assigned to a licensor who will work with the applicant through the rest of the application process. While waiting for communication, the applicant should begin collecting the seven documents required for submission in Phase II.
Minnesota law requires individuals affiliated with a certified child care center, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 245C.02, subdivision 6a, to have a background study completed by the Department of Human Services (DHS). A resource is available to assist in the identification of Who Needs a Background Study in a certified license-exempt child care center.
As a part of phase II, when information is entered into the licensing system, it will prompt an email to be sent to the certification holder contact person to set up a NETStudy 2.0 background study account for the certification holder. Certification holders are responsible for ensuring background studies are completed as required. Delays in completing background studies during the application process can extend the timeline for granting certification.
The Background Studies Division has additional information about background study requirements for child care providers on the Background Study website. Information about the background study system and how to initiate child care background studies is found on the NETStudy 2.0 website.
Once an applicant has access to the online application portal, the applicant will complete the following information:
A certification licensor will work with the designated center operator via communication in the online portal during this phase of the application. If a submitted document is not complete, or is deficient because the information submitted does not meet certification requirements, the certification licensor will identify what is missing or deficient in a notice. The applicant will have 45 days to resubmit the document.
Legal authority: Minnesota Statutes, section 245H.03, subdivision 3
A certified center must provide documentation showing that a fire inspection was completed within the previous three years prior to obtaining certification. Documentation of compliance with fire marshal inspection requirements will be reviewed by a licensor before a center will be granted 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Certified centers that need a fire marshal inspection will be required to pay $50 to the state fire marshal for the inspection.
For centers located in a public school building, this is an existing requirement and you can provide documentation from your school.
For centers NOT located in a public school building, an appropriate fire inspection will need to be completed prior to granting certification.
Legal authority: Minnesota Statute, section 245H.13 subdivision 5
Each center will be required to submit a floor plan of their building that shows where the primary indoor and outdoor spaces are located. The floor plan will be reviewed by a licensor and must include the primary indoor and outdoor space used for child care before a center will be granted certification.
Legal authority: Minnesota Statute, section 245H.13 subdivision 5
Summary of personnel information is required for the director, all staff persons that will work with children providing direct contact services, substitute staff, and unsupervised volunteers. The information required in statute includes:
Certified centers can submit a list or use the DHS-created Summary of Personnel Information Form - Initial Certification (PDF) to demonstrate compliance with staff documentation training requirements for certification. The summary of personnel information will be reviewed by a licensor and must be complete for all required individuals before a center will be granted certification.
Legal authority: Minnesota Statute, section 245H.14
The Director Information Form (PDF) documents the director’s qualification information for each certified child care center. Certified centers are required to have a director or designee on site during all hours of operation. To meet this requirement, a license holder can choose to have more than one site director per center or identify both a director and designee(s) during all hours of operation. The designee does not need to have a director information form or meet the qualifications of a director but the designee must be identified, aware of their designation and responsibilities, and available to respond to questions or address concerns. The Director Information Form will be reviewed by a licensor and must include the director’s date of birth and a complete record of the director’s training qualifications before a center will be granted certification.
If a license holder has multiple centers at different locations, any number of the centers can have the same director as long as an assigned designee(s) covers the operating hours at all locations when the director is not onsite.
Minnesota statute requires that the certification holder develop policies and procedures necessary to maintain compliance with health and safety requirements. Each center will be required to submit the center’s policies and procedures. It is highly recommended that centers use the Guidelines for Developing Policies and Procedures as a resource to ensure that policies and procedures meet all requirements. The Guidelines for Developing Policies and Procedures also includes the requirements for the child care emergency plan. The center’s policies and procedures will be reviewed by a licensor and must include the written policies required in Minnesota Statutes, section 245H.13, subdivision 8 before a center will be granted certification.
Legal authority: Minnesota Statute, section 245H.13 subdivision 8
Certified centers must develop emergency plans using the Department of Human Services Child Care Emergency Plan Form (PDF). If a license holder has more than one certified center, each center must have their own emergency plan that is specific to each location.
The Emergency Plan will be reviewed by a licensor and must include all required information specified in Minnesota Statutes, section 245H.15, subdivision 1 before a center will be granted certification.
Legal authority: Minnesota Statute, section 245H.15
Each center must develop a risk reduction plan that identifies risks to children served by the child care center. The risk reduction plan has sections for identifying risks associated with the physical plant and the environment. The physical plant is any indoor space used by the children and the environment is any outdoor space used by the children. A DHS-created Risk Reduction Plan template is available on the website for certified child care centers. This form is recommended by DHS but is not required, however it outlines all of the details that must be included in the risk reduction plan found in Minnesota Statutes, section 245H.13, subdivision 7. The center’s risk reduction plan will be reviewed by a licensor and must include the written policies required in Minnesota Statutes, section 245H.13, subdivision 8 before a center will be granted certification.
Legal authority: Minnesota Statute, section 245H.13 subdivision 7