Skip navigation

Family child care licensing

Hennepin County is responsible for licensing family child care homes in the county. Providers who care for children from more than one family must be licensed. The county provides on-line orientation training, facilitates background studies done by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, conducts home interviews, safety checks, recommends licensure, conducts investigations, and supports providers in meeting the health and safety needs of the children in their care.

Face covering guidance for family child care providers

Under Executive Order 21-23, licensed and certified child care settings and other Head Start, preschool and pre-kindergarten programs are still required to comply with face covering and face shield guidance until 70% of the 16+ population is vaccinated or July 1 (whichever arrives sooner). See complete Masking Requirements for Child Care: COVID-19 from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Providers with questions should contact their licensor or email childrenscabinet.mmb@state.mn.us

Updates to the guidance:

What are the requirements for parents and other visitors?

  • Those who do not work at or attend the child care facility are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when inside the child care facility given that children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination and are at continued risk for getting sick from and potentially transmitting COVID-19.

Signs indicating that there is a statewide mask mandate are no longer required. If a child care setting is requiring face coverings for those who do not work at or attend the facility, they should communicate that where individuals are entering.

Which masking requirement do I follow if my city already has a requirement?

  • The Executive Order establishes the minimum face covering requirements for all Minnesotans. If a local government authority (such as a city or county) establishes requirements that are more protective (in that they require face coverings in more situations), those requirements must be followed.

Cohort group sizes

Licensed child care centers and licensed family child care providers may expand their group sizes from the recommended cohorts of 10 to the group size dictated by their license and/or Minnesota Statutes or Minnesota Rules.

Open all

Family child care providers are required to develop and post a COVID-19 plan. Read more in this update from the Department of Human Services.

Information for child care providers - Responding to COVID-19 (State of Minnesota)

MDH school, youth and child care programs decision tree

If you have questions

  • For questions related to your license, resources, or other information, call the Department of Human Services child care provider hotline at 1-888-234-1268.
  • For questions related to COVID-19 resources, supplies, or grants, contact the Minnesota Children's Cabinet at childrenscabinet.mmb@state.mn.us or call 651-259-3636.
  • For specific health questions related to care settings, contact the MDH school and child care team at health.schools.covid19@state.mn.us.

Additional resources

Family child care providers support families and help kids learn, play and grow.

Read the Guide to becoming a licensed family child care provider (PDF)

Online orientation

The first step to becoming licensed is to complete the online orientation.

Allow 30 minutes to complete the self-paced online orientation. You must complete the online orientation to receive an application packet by email. Note: If you exit the orientation without finishing it, you will have to start over. 

Access the online orientation

Application process

Once you have completed the online orientation and sent the required email to the automated location, you will be sent an application packet by email.

Currently, the licensing process will take a minimum of 3 to 6 months. Completed applications are processed in the order they are received.

Application packet

Once you receive the packet, follow the instructions included with the packet to complete and return. There is a $50 non-refundable application fee required to process the application. Incomplete packets, including those with no check, will be returned. A checklist is provided in your packet as reference.

Training for applicants

Prior to obtaining your license, any caregiver must complete specific training approved by Achieve, the Minnesota Center for Professional Development.

Find a complete list of training required by DHS: Training requirements for licensed family child care (PDF)

Find training

  • Develop – find required trainings and track your completed trainings
  • Think Small – other classes and training information
  • CPR Twin Cities – additional source for CPR and first aid training

Background study

Background studies are completed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services Background Studies Division through NETStudy 2.0. Background studies are required for anyone age 13 and older living or working in the family child care setting. Additional fees apply for each person needing a background study.

Small group meeting

Once your application packet is received and your background studies have cleared, you will be invited to a small group meeting. In the small group meeting, you will learn about child care licensing requirements and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Additional items to complete

After the small group meeting, additional items must be completed and received in order to be assigned to a licensing worker.

  • Three references - Hennepin County will send the reference letter directly to each non-relative reference you provide in the application packet
  • Fire inspection - Hennepin County will provide you with the appropriate documentation and forms needed for your fire inspection, if a fire inspection is required.
  • Small group meeting packet forms

Home visit by a licensor

The licensor will visit you at your proposed child care site/home and will determine any necessary corrections before you're eligible to be licensed. We will check all areas of your home and property for certain safety items.

License recommendation

Once you and your home are in full compliance with child care licensing rules and statutes, the county will recommend that the Minnesota Department of Human Services issue your license.

Barriers to licensure can include:

  • Background checks – everyone in your household or working in the day care must receive clearance. The Minnesota Department of Human Services processes disqualifications, which will take more time.
  • Fences – locations near heavy traffic, railroads, or water hazards such as ponds, marshes, or lakes may require a fence that meets city code and licensing requirements.
  • Pools and water features – swimming pools or water features in your yard must be separated from children’s outdoor play space by fencing that meets city code and licensing requirements.
  • Fire inspections and safety requirements – you may need to make changes to your home after fire or licensing inspections.
  • Your house – we will check all areas of your house and property for certain safety items.

Public information about you

With the exception of personal information and personal financial data, information classified as public will be shared with others upon request such as your name, address, phone number, licensed capacity, and type of children preferred, as well as any information about complaints filed about your child care, disqualifications or negative actions. We are required by law to share public information with interested persons who call to inquire about your business.

Read more in the data privacy notice (PDF).

Child-specific forms

Forms for business use

Provider forms and related materials

Child care associations

Child maltreatment mandated reporting

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has produced three short videos on Child Maltreatment Mandated Reporting to help you learn more about your responsibility as a mandated reporter.

View the videos

Make a child protection report

Food program and liability insurance coverage

While not legally required, many family child care providers carry liability insurance. You can purchase insurance through an insurance agency or as part of the provider’s homeowner’s insurance.

Assure Child Care
80 – 8th Street South
Suite 700
Minneapolis MN 55402

Food program only

Licensed providers can also get reimbursed for some of the expense of feeding the children in their care. Here's a partial list of insurance and food program providers. Hennepin County provides this list as a courtesy and does not endorse or ensure the quality of these programs. Learn more about providers' role in the food program (PDF).

Insurance program only

MN Underwriting Association
PO Box 1760
St Paul, MN 55101
651-222-0484

Program Managers
1001 Cliff Rd E
Burnsville, MN 55337
952-707-8674

Variance request process

  1. Notify your licensor of the request for a variance at least 30-45 days prior to the requested start date.
  2. Complete the Variance request: Family child care form (DHS-7297) and return to your licensor.
    • If the request is for a change in capacity, you must also include a Family child care enrollment form (DHS-7934).
    • You will need to write out the additional steps you will take to ensure the health, safety and protection of the children in your care. For example, "I will conduct weekly fire drills to make sure I can get all children out of the house safely" or "I will add an additional caregiver during the variance period."
  3. After receiving your form(s), your licensor will request an updated Physical environment form (PDF) and Floor and escape plan (DHS-2720).
  4. Your licensor will review the variance request, submit a recommendation and consult with the supervisor, and return the variance request with the final decision.
  5. Your licensor will contact you regarding the decision.

More about variances

  • A variance will not be approved on a capacity or age/ratio issue if you are over your number at the time of the variance request.
  • Special consideration will be given in granting a variance for capacity or age/ratio when there is a sibling in care.
  • Hennepin County does not grant capacity or age/ratio variances over 30 calendar days.
  • All variance decisions made by Hennepin County are final.

Finding child care

Think Small provides individualized referrals reflecting a family’s preferences: location by schools, openings by age, hours and days of care, program information, and special services. Visit the Think Small family referral website.

The Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network has an online database of licensed homes and centers. Visit the Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

The Department of Human Services Licensing Information Lookup is a simple online search tool. Use the licensing information lookup tool.

Financial help for child care

The child care assistance program helps families pay for child care so parents can work, look for a job or attend school. Learn more about child care assistance

Evaluating child care programs

Submit your feedback

If you have a child currently or previously enrolled in a family child care program in Hennepin County, you can provide feedback to us about your experience with the provider. Your feedback will be kept confidential and helps us improve training and other programs for family child care providers to better serve the community. 

Survey of parent satisfaction with licensed family child care provider services

Safety and standards

File a family child care complaint or check complaint records

Call Hennepin County family child care licensing at 612-348-3883.

Complaint investigation procedure (PDF)

To report concerns about a licensed or certified child care center, contact the Minnesota Department of Human Services at 651-297-4123.

Other important numbers

  • Child protection concern: call 612-348-3552
  • Emergencies: call 911
  • Unlicensed provider operating illegally: call 612-348-3883

Complaints are confidential

Hennepin County is required to investigate possible violations of child care licensing rules. This is usually done face-to-face with the provider. Once the investigation is complete, one of these findings is made:

  • Occurred facts in the complaint were found to be true. This could result in a correction order, licensing action, or some other form of correction as deemed appropriate by the licensor, the county attorney, and the program supervisor. A licensing action would only be taken in the most serious cases.
  • Did not occur complaint found to be false. Usually no further action is taken.
  • Unable to determine county unable to determine whether the facts alleged were true. Licensing staff might offer suggestions or corrections if warranted.

After the complaint is filed, all complaints are retained in the licensing file

The Minnesota Data Privacy Act prevents the county from releasing certain information about the complaint, such as any identifying information about who made the complaint. The nature of the complaints considered public information once the investigation is complete. State law requires the county to release the basic complaint information, the results of the investigation, and whether or not any corrective action was taken as a result. Parents can contact the provider if they want more information.

Providers have the right to give input into the process

The provider has the right to appeal a correction or licensing action if they believe it is incorrect. Under the licensing rule, the licensor has the right to enter your home at any time the child care program is in operation. The provider may opt not to talk with the licensor, although this may result in a substantiated finding, since most often the provider is the primary source of information.

Open all
Top