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Applying for Certified, License-Exempt Child Care

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for certifying and monitoring license-exempt child care centers that participate in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Certification helps protect the health and safety of children by requiring that providers meet minimum standards for care and physical environment. In Minnesota, a license-exempt child care center is required by state law to become certified in order to accept funding from the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

What is certified child care in Minnesota?

What are the requirements for certified child care centers?

The requirements are laws of the state and are published by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. The state requirements for certified child care centers, Minnesota Statutes, chapter 245H specify the minimum health and safety standards for care and the physical environment of the child care facility.

Phases of the application process for certification

The application process for certification of a license-exempt child care center in Minnesota is broken into two phases. 

  • Phase I - Submission of the pre-application form 
  • Phase II - Submission of additional documentation in an online portal, a review of the application documentation by a licensor, and conducting background studies

Phase I

Phase I of the application process allows a center to signify their interest in seeking certification from the MN Department of Human Services by submitting a Certification Pre-Application Information form.

Phase II

When DHS has received and verified the Pre-application Information Form, the center’s information is entered into the licensing system.  This will prompt the distribution of two emails to the person designated as the center operator.  One provides a link to the online application platform.   The second provides the username and password to login into the online platform as well as instructions for using the online platform.  Phase II requires the center applying for certification to set up a background study account and complete background requirements, and to submit application information demonstrating compliance with Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 245H.

Application denial

If the applicant is consistently unable to provide documentation of compliance with certification requirements, withholds relevant information, or provides false and misleading information in connection with the application, DHS may deny the application. Failure to submit a complete application after receiving notice from DHS that the initial application was incomplete, can also be basis for denying certification. If an application for certification is denied, written notice of reconsideration may be requested by the applicant.

Legal authority: Minnesota Statutes, section 245H.03, subdivision 4

Certification granted

If all applicable requirements are met, certification is granted.


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