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A closer look at MN's licensing requirements for child care programs

It's understandable why someone would seriously entertain the idea of opening a child care center, as it stands to not only be incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable work, but also a potentially lucrative endeavor.

However, anyone considering opening such a child care center should be aware that they will have to satisfy a multitude of exacting requirements in order to secure the necessary licensure from the Minnesota Department of Health.

First, those seeking to open a child care center must understand that the state has very precise age categories into which children are divided.

To illustrate, infants include children who are at least six weeks old, but no older than 16 months, while toddlers include children who are at least 16 months old but no older than 33 months. Preschoolers include children who are at least 33 months but have yet to attend the first day of kindergarten.

These age categories are important in the context of licensure as they dictate the staffing levels that must be maintained and the maximum group size allowed:

  • Infants: Staff-to-child ratio is 1:4, while the maximum group size is 8
  • Toddlers: Staff-to-child ratio is 1:7, while the maximum group size is 14
  • Preschoolers: Staff-to-child ratio is 1:10, while the maximum group size is 20   

It should be noted that state regulations dictate that day care centers must also be staffed by a director and the necessary number of teachers, assistant teachers and aides. Furthermore, there are certain staffing requirements that must be satisfied in relation to each age category.

  • The first staff member needed to meet the staff-to-child ratio must be a teacher.
  • The second staff member needed to meet the staff-to-child ratio must be at least qualified as an aide.
  • The third staff member needed to meet the staff-to-child ratio must be at least qualified as an assistant teacher.
  • The fourth staff member needed to meet the staff-to-child ratio must be at least qualified as an aide.

We will continue to examine these licensing requirements for child care center operators in future posts. In the meantime, if you are an existing license holder who has encountered any problems with Department of Health, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options. 

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