Child care assistance

The child care assistance program helps families pay for child care so parents can work, look for a job or attend school. The program is available for children younger than 13 and for children with special needs who are younger than 15.

When families apply, their gross income must be below a maximum income entry level to qualify for the program. Each activity also must be approved before child care benefits can be authorized. Parents must comply with child support enforcement for all children in the family. They also pay part of the child care cost, a bi-weekly co-pay, based on income and the size of the family.

Our human service centers are currently closed to the public to protect the community’s health and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), however, you can still access many services via phone: 612-348-5937.

 Please note you may experience long waits. 

You can also visit to apply for services online.

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Apply for child care assistance

Start by calling Hennepin County at 612-348-5937.

Based on your answers to a few questions, we will:

  • Mail a child care application packet, or
  • Add your name to a waiting list (if funds are not available), or
  • Tell you why you are not eligible at this time

If you receive an application, fill out and return the required forms and other documents. Send proof documenting things such as address, identity, income, work schedule and school schedule. 

Applications are processed within 30 days. Your child care provider must be registered with Hennepin County. It takes 4-6 weeks to become registered.

Information for parents

Choose a provider

Select a child care provider that is best for your children. Your provider can be:

  • Licensed child care centers (licensed through the state)
  • Licensed family child care (licensed through Hennepin County)
  • Licensed exempt child care (such as school programs)
  • Legally unlicensed family child care (provider must be 18 or older and must pass a background check)

All providers must be registered with Hennepin County to participate in the program. Unlicensed providers must pass background checks.

It is a good idea to interview the child care provider and visit the program before using the service.

Care for school-age children

Studies show that children in quality school-age programs are more likely to turn in homework, attend school, and have improved school behavior. Children are also less likely to participate in risky behavior such as smoking, drinking, or using drugs. Research tells us school-age programs also:

  • Help kids learn social skills
  • Create changes to get involved in communities
  • Connect families to other services

Questions and answers

Q: How often do I have to submit paperwork?

A: After you are approved for benefits, a renewal form must be completed every six months along with updated proof of income and activity.

Q: What kinds of changes should I report?

A: Report any changes in income, jobs (starting or ending), work hours, school schedules, marital status, family size, and address, within 10 days. These changes can affect your eligibility, your approved care, or the co-pay amount.

Q: What is an overpayment?

A: This is child care money paid out in excess of what a person was eligible to receive. It must be paid back. As long as you are receiving child care benefits, your co-pay will be increased until the debt is paid in full.

Q: How do I change child care providers?

A: Contact a child care assistance worker right away. The current provider must be given a 15-day written notice to end care. The new provider must be registered in Hennepin County.

Q: Can a child use multiple providers?

A: More than one provider can be used per child. A child care worker will figure out how much care a child can have with each provider. The total amount of care cannot exceed 120 hours in a two-week period for each child.

Q: How much will I have to pay for child care?

A: The size of your co-pay will depend on your family size and other factors. You can look up your co-pay on the Minnesota Department of Human Services website. You may have additional costs.

Family co-payment schedules

Hennepin County pays child care providers only up to maximum rates. If providers charge more than maximum rates, the family must pay the difference. Providers can also charge for:

  • Late fees
  • Optional activity fees
  • Transportation fees
  • Hours not authorized for payment by Hennepin County

Be sure you understand the child care provider’s payment policies.

Online resources

Child Care Aware – Help finding a child care provider and child care provider resources. Call 651-290-9704.

Think Small – Help with finding a child care provider and child care provider resources. Call 651-641-0332.

Parent Aware – Help finding child care and early learning providers. Call toll-free 1-888-291-9811.

DHS licensing look-up – Help finding licensed child care providers, complaints, and compliance reports.

Minnesota Department of Human Services – Child Care Assistance Program

Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery

Domestic Abuse Service Center

Information for child care providers

Payment rates for providers

Maximum rates depend on the type of child care setting and are determined by the state. Visit the Department of Human Services website to find rates for Hennepin County.

Information about billing

Providers must submit bills within 60 days of the last date of care or the date the billing form was sent, whichever is later. Payment will not be made on late bills unless the provider shows good cause.

For more information see the Department of Human Services' Child Care Provider Guide.

To ask billing or payment questions, contact Accounts Payable at 612-348-3445.

If you need replacement billing forms, contact a child care worker.

Unmet co-pays

If a parent does not keep current with co-pays, contact the child care worker. Benefits will end until the co-pay is paid or until the provider agrees to another payment arrangement.


Think Small

Family child care licensing in Hennepin County

Child Care Aware

Parent Aware

Child care complaints or suspected fraud


Report complaints to your child care worker and call the appropriate complaint line.

  • Licensed center: 651-296-3971
  • Licensed and unlicensed family provider: 612-348-3883
  • Child protection issue: 612-348-3552

Report potential fraud

Make a report of suspected fraud online with the Minnesota Department of Human Services Office of Inspector General, or call a fraud hot line, below.

  • Minnesota fraud hot line: 651-431-3968
  • Hennepin County fraud hot line: 612-348-4952
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