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FAQs about licensing actions

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) in partnership with counties licenses approximately 22,000 service providers, including child care and foster care. This page answers questions frequently asked about licensing actions and maltreatment investigations involving DHS-licensed providers.  

Severity and types of licensing actions

DHS and county licensors regularly review licensed programs, investigate complaints, and issue licensing actions.

What are the types of licensing actions DHS can take if a provider is not in compliance?

  • Correction order
  • Conditional license
  • Fine
  • Temporary immediate suspension
  • Indefinite suspension
  • Revocation.

When is a correction order issued?

DHS and counties can issue a correction order when they find that a provider has violated a licensing statute or rule. A correction order identifies the specific statute or rule that was violated, describes the conditions that were determined to violate the statute or rule, and gives the provider a specific period of time and actions to take to correct the violation. Programs are typically ordered to correct the violation immediately.

When does DHS issue a conditional license?

When the nature, severity or chronicity of substantiated licensing violations require action more serious than a correction order to protect the health, safety, or rights of people the provider serves, DHS may issue a conditional license. A conditional license requires compliance with special terms for the license holder to continue to operate. The conditional license outlines immediate and ongoing steps that a provider must take to comply with licensing requirements.

What happens after DHS issues a conditional license?

When a conditional license is issued, DHS monitors the provider more closely, which may include additional announced or unannounced licensing visits, and gives technical assistance to help the provider come back into compliance with the licensing statutes and rules.

What if the violations are not corrected or the terms of the conditional order are not followed?

A conditional license requires compliance with special terms for the license holder to continue to operate. If the violations identified in a conditional license are not corrected or if the provider fails to do the additional things required in the conditional order, DHS may can take further licensing action, such as extending the conditional license, adding new terms to the conditional order or revoking the license.

What is a temporary immediate suspension?

DHS issues a temporary immediate suspension (TIS) when there is an imminent risk of harm to the health, safety or rights of people the provider serves. A TIS requires the provider to immediately stop operating and the TIS remains in effect while a final licensing action is determined. DHS may lift the TIS when the conditions giving rise to the TIS are fully investigated at which time DHS can issue a final action, such as a conditional license or revocation if conditions so warrant. 

What is an indefinite suspension?

DHS will most often issue an indefinite suspension if a TIS has been issued and DHS needs more than 90 days for related licensing investigations, maltreatment investigations, or any criminal proceedings to be completed. An indefinite suspension will remain in place until DHS has the necessary information to issue a final licensing action.

An indefinite suspension may also be issued if DHS finds that a license may be re-instated, but only after the provider meets certain conditions.  An indefinite suspension would then remain in effect until all conditions are met.

When does DHS revoke a license?

Revocation means the license has been taken away due to serious or chronic licensing violations. DHS can revoke a license after considering the nature, severity, and chronicity of rule or statute violations and the effect of the violations on the health, safety, or rights of persons the provider serves.

When are fines assessed?

DHS can assess fines when a provider is found responsible for maltreatment, or has statute or rule violations. Fines for maltreatment are $1,000 or $5,000 per finding of maltreatment, depending on whether the maltreatment is serious as defined by statute.  Fines for statute or rule violations are $100 or $200 per violation, depending on whether the violation is related to health, safety, or supervision.

If a license is revoked, can the provider be re-licensed?

When a license is revoked, the provider cannot hold or reapply for another DHS license for five years after the revocation is final. A revocation is final the date it was issued if the provider does not appeal. If the provider appeals, the revocation is final when the commissioner issues a final order. Following the five-year period, the provider may reapply for a license. At that time, the application and information gathered in the application process are fully assessed to determine whether licensing requirements are met. 

Licensing and maltreatment complaints and investigations

To help protect the health, safety and rights of people served by licensed programs, reports of possible licensing violations and maltreatment of minors or vulnerable adults are investigated by either DHS or county agencies.

What are counties responsible for investigating?

Counties are responsible for monitoring in-home family child care, child foster care, adult foster care, and family adult day services. County child protection staff conduct the maltreatment investigations in these programs, and county licensors conduct the licensing reviews for these programs. Counties are also responsible for investigating the physical plant of community residential settings. 

What does DHS investigate?

DHS is responsible for monitoring child care centers, adult day care centers, children’s residential facilities, residential and outpatient services for people with substance use disorders, mental health programs, licensed private placing agencies, and home and community-based services for people who are age 65 or older, or have disabilities. DHS conducts both the maltreatment investigations and licensing reviews in these facilities.

What information is public during an investigation?

In an open investigation, all information related to the investigation is classified as confidential under Minnesota law. This means DHS (or the county licensor) cannot disclose any of the information related to the investigation. When DHS issues a temporary immediate suspension, DHS discloses general information as required by state data privacy laws.

What information is provided when a DHS investigation is complete?

After DHS completes a maltreatment investigation, an investigative memorandum is issued and is available on the DHS Licensing Information Lookup.  DHS licensing actions can be found here as well.

Appeals and reconsiderations of licensing actions

A provider has the right to appeal licensing actions.

  • Correction orders and conditional licenses are subject to an administrative reconsideration by the commissioner of human services. The legal division in the Office of Inspector General conducts a review of the order and issues a decision.
  • Fines, license revocations, suspensions and denials are subject to a contested case hearing that results in a recommendation by an administrative law judge. The commissioner issues a final decision.
  • When a licensing action is based on a maltreatment determination or a disqualification, all related matters are consolidated into a single contested case hearing.
  • Commissioner decisions can be appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

What is a reconsideration?

After DHS issues a correction order or conditional license, the provider can appeal (challenge) the order by requesting reconsideration by the commissioner. Information about how to appeal is included in every order that is issued to a provider. The provider may submit written information to support the request. The commissioner reviews the information submitted from both the provider and licensor, and issues a written response. 

What licensing actions can be appealed through a hearing?

Providers can request a hearing to challenge fines, license revocations, suspensions and temporary immediate suspensions. A hearing will generally include any maltreatment determination or disqualification that resulted in the licensing action.

What is the appeal process for temporary immediate suspensions?

A provider can appeal a temporary immediate suspension in an expedited process, which may take up to 90 days to complete.

What is the timeline for TIS appeal? 

An evidentiary hearing is generally required to be held within a month after receiving the provider’s appeal (five working days for DHS counsel to request a hearing; hearing to be held within 30 days from the request). After the hearing, the timeline for a decision is:

  • 10 working days for the administrative law judge to issue a recommendation
  • 10 calendar days from receipt of the recommendation for parties to file written exceptions
  • 10 working days for the human services commissioner to issue a decision.

The only issue on appeal is whether the temporary immediate suspension will remain in place while DHS determines whether a licensing action must be issued.

If at the resolution of the maltreatment and licensing investigations it becomes clear that there is no longer an imminent risk of harm, the TIS can be lifted – usually through a settlement that includes conditions to ensure safety of persons served by the provider.  

Can providers operate while appealing a licensing action?

When DHS issues a temporary immediate suspension, the provider must immediately stop operating. The temporary immediate suspension remains in effect until a final sanction is determined or the TIS is lifted.

When DHS issues a revocation order, the provider may appeal and continue to operate until the commissioner issues a final decision. DHS continues to monitor providers that operate while under appeal and has the authority to immediately suspend the license if a subsequent violation by the provider could adversely affect the health or safety of persons served by the provider.

A provider can continue to operate while a conditional license order is reconsidered. Conditions are stayed until the commissioner reaches a final decision on reconsideration.

Information about licensed providers

Information about licensed programs, licensing actions and maltreatment investigation are available on the DHS Licensing Information Lookup.

Severity and types of licensing actions

DHS and county licensors regularly review licensed programs, investigate complaints and issue licensing actions for providers who are out of compliance. The types of licensing actions that DHS can take are:

  • Correction order
  • Conditional license
  • Fine
  • Temporary immediate suspension
  • Indefinite suspension
  • Revocation

Licensing and maltreatment complaints and investigations

To help protect the health, safety and rights of people served by licensed programs, reports of possible licensing violations and maltreatment of minors or vulnerable adults are investigated by either DHS or county agencies.

Appeals and reconsiderations of licensing actions

A provider has the right to appeal licensing actions.

  • Correction orders and conditional licenses are subject to an administrative reconsideration by the commissioner of human services. The legal division in the Office of Inspector General conducts a review of the order and issues a decision.
  • Fines, license revocations, suspensions and denials are subject to a contested case hearing that results in a recommendation by an administrative law judge. The commissioner issues a final decision.
  • When a licensing action is based on a maltreatment determination or a disqualification, all related matters are consolidated into a single contested case hearing.
  • Commissioner decisions can be appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Information about licensed providers

Information about licensed programs, licensing actions and maltreatment investigation are available on the DHS Licensing Information Lookup.

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