Minnesota Day Care Laws & Licensing

Girl at Daycare

Types of Child Care

There are several types of daycare providers that are regulated and licensed by the state of Minnesota. Those providers are:

  1. family day care;
  2. group family day care; and
  3. child care centers.

Family and group family day care provide services in a setting other than a child care center, usually the provider’s residence, for fewer than 24 hours per day. A child care center is a facility where child care is provided for fewer than 24 hours per day in a setting that is not a residence. Child care centers often provide additional services, including preschool and nursery programs, Head Start programs, night care, and drop-in or sick care.

Exclusions from licensure

There are several day care situations are expressly excluded from licensure. These day care situations include:

  1. day care provided by a relative;
  2. day care provided to children from a single family; or,
  3. day care provided for a cumulative total of less than 30 days in a 12-month period.[1]

Family or Group Family Day Care

Family day care providers offer services in a setting other than a child care center, usually the provider’s residence, for fewer than 24 hours per day. The Department of Human Services has delegated licensing of family child care providers to the providers’ relative counties. Nevertheless, family day care providers must be licensed pursuant to Minnesota Rule 9502.0315 to 9502.0445.

Licensure

Any person operating a family day care must obtain a license from the Department of Human Services.[2] In order to obtain a license the provider must first fully comply with rules 9502.0315 to 9502.0445, as well as submit an application to the county in which the applicant resides. The applicant must also allow the county or agency access to their home in order to evaluate whether the home complies with all applicable requirements.[3]

Caregiver Qualifications

Caregivers must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and physically able to care for children.[4] Caregivers for group family day care services must meet additional requirements. Group caregivers must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  1. one-year experience as a licensed day care provider;
  2. six-months experience as a licensed day care provider; and, completion of an accredited day care program; or, thirty hours of child care, health or nutrition training, as well as 520 hours of experience in a teaching environment; or, thirty hours of child development or early childhood education training, as well as 520 hours of experience as a licensed practical or registered nurse;
  3. certification or licensure pursuant to rule 9502.0355, subpt. 3(C).

Additionally, the caregiver must either furnish a certificate of insurance for the residence for bodily injury in the amount of at least $100,000 per person and $250,000 per occurrence or give written notice to parents that the provider has less than the suggested amount.[5]

Capacity Limits

The Department of Human Services limits the number of children that may be in care at any one time, as well as the number of adults who are required to be present. Day care providers must be specifically licensed for the total number of children, ten (10) years of age or younger, that are present in the residence at any one time. For applicable age distribution restrictions, see rule 9502.0367.

Child Care Centers

A child care center is a facility where child care is provided for fewer than 24 hours per day in a setting that is not a residence. Child care centers often provide additional services, including preschool and nursery programs, Head Start programs, night care, and drop-in or sick care. Child care centers must be licensed with the Minnesota Department of Human Services pursuant to Minnesota Rule 9503.0005 to 9503.0170.

Licensure

Any person operating a child care center must obtain a license from the Department of Human Services.[6] In order to obtain a license the provider must first fully comply with rules 9503.0005 to 9503.01700. The following is a list of requirements any child care center must meet before its application is approved. The list is not exhaustive and does not include all specific requirements.

Child Care Program Plan

Any applicant attempting to establish a child care center must develop a written child care program plan. The program must:

  1. mandate that children have supervision at all times;
  2. describe the age categories and number of children to be served by the program;
  3. describe the days and hours of operation of the program;
  4. describe the general education methods to be used by the program;
  5. be developed and evaluated in writing annually by a staff member qualified as at least a teacher;
  6. have stated goals and objectives to promote the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development of children in each age category;
  7. specify activities designed to promote the development of children;
  8. provide a daily schedule for both indoor and outdoor activities;
  9. provide for activities that are both quiet and active;
  10. provide for a variety of activities that require the use of varied equipment and materials; and
  11. be available to parents for review upon request.

Required Emergency & Accident Policies

The applicant must develop written policies governing emergencies, accidents, and injuries. The applicant must develop and implement written policies in the following areas:

  1. procedures for administering first aid;
  2. safety rules to follow in avoiding injuries;
  3. procedures for the daily inspection of potential hazards;
  4. procedures for fire prevention and procedures to follow in the event of a fire;
  5. procedures to follow in severe weather;
  6. procedures to follow when a child is missing;
  7. procedures to follow if an unauthorized person attempts to pick up a child or if no one comes to pick up a child;
  8. sources of emergency medical care;
  9. procedures for recording accidents, injuries and incidents involving a child.

Facility Requirements

Any facility being used as a child care center must meet a host of requirements defined in part 9503.0155.

Staff Qualifications

The center must have a director and the appropriate number of staff qualified as teachers, assistant teachers, and aides based on staff ratio and distribution requirements. Within each age category, the first staff needed to meet the staff-to-child ratio must be a teacher, the second staff must be at least aide qualified; the third staff must be at least assistant teacher qualified; and, the fourth staff must be at least aide qualified.[7]

Director Qualifications

In order to qualify as a director any person must satisfy four requirements. A director must:

  1. be at least eighteen (18) years of age;
  2. be a graduate of a high school or hold an equivalent diploma;
  3. have at least 1,040 hours of staff supervision experience; and
  4. have at least nine quarter credits or 90 combined hours in accredited courses in staff supervision, human relations and child development.[8]

If a director functions as a teacher or develops or revises the required child care program, the director must meet the qualifications of a teacher specified in part 9503.0032.

Teacher Qualifications

A teacher must be at least eighteen (18) years of age and meet at least one (1) of nine (9) requirements provided under rule 9503.0032. Each requirement is based on the amount of education or training that the caregiver has acquired. For instance, a caregiver with only a high school diploma is required to have a minimum of 4,160 hours of experience as an assistant teacher and twenty-four (24) post-secondary educational credits.[9] On the other hand, a caregiver with a baccalaureate degree is only required to have a minimum of 1,040 hours of experience as an assistant teacher, aide or student intern, as well as eighteen (18) post-secondary educational credits.[10] Click here for a complete list of requirements.

Assistant Teacher Qualifications

An assistant teacher must work under the supervision of a qualified teacher, be at least eighteen (18) years of age, and fulfill all the necessary requirements of part 9503.0033, subpt. 2. There are, however, exceptions to the requirements of part 9503.0033.[11] For instance, a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse is qualified as an assistant teacher for infants without having to meet further requirements.

Aide Qualifications

An “aide” is a staff person who carries out child care program activities under the supervision of a teacher or assistant teacher. An aide must be at least sixteen (16) years old. Any aide under the age of eighteen (18) must be directly supervised at nearly all times.[12]

Volunteer Qualifications

A volunteer who is included in the staff-to-child ratio must meet the requirements for the assigned staff position as specified in parts 9503.0030 to 9503.0034. Volunteers who have direct contact with or access to children must be supervised by a staff person who meets the qualifications for director, teacher, or assistant teacher.


[1] Minn. Stat. § 245A.03, subdiv. 2.

[2] Minn. R. 9502.0335 (2012).

[3] Minn. R. 9502.0335, subpt. 2 (2012) (agency representative will evaluate whether the home is free from potential hazards, complies with any applicable local ordinances, and has passed initial inspection by a fire marshal).

[4] Minn. R. 9502.0355, subpt. 1-2 (2012) (applicants must supply documentation to the agency that the applicant has had a physical examination from a licensed physician within 12-months prior to initial licensure).

[5] Minn. R. 9502.0355, subpt. 4.

[6] Minn. R. 9502.0335 (2012).

[7] Minn. R. 9503.0040, subpt. 2.

[8] Minn. R. 9503.0031, subpt. 1 (2012).

[9] Minn. R. 9503.0032, subpt. 2 (2012).

[10] Id.

[11] Minn. R. 9503.0033, subpt. 1 (2012).

[12] Minn. R. 9503.0034, subpt. 1 (2012) (an aide does not have to be supervised while assisting in the supervision of sleeping children or when assisting children with washing, toileting, and diapering).