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Assistance Network

How to Open a Child Care Program

With funding from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Care Aware of Minnesota is creating a new child care one-stop assistance network to help current and aspiring child care providers to establish and sustain a licensed family child care program or child care center. As part of this project, Child Care Aware of Minnesota will be launching a new website in the coming months. Until that time, information about how to open a licensed child care program is available on this page.

The 2021 Minnesota Legislature mandated the creation of a one-stop assistance network for child care by directing the Minnesota Department of Human Services to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to develop a plan to establish the network. The plan, which includes an estimated timeline, budget, and outreach strategies, is available on the Legislative Reference Library’s website.

For more information call Child Care Aware of Minnesota at 651.290.9704 ext 128 or email assistancenetwork@childcareawaremn.org.

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STARTING A FAMILY CHILD CARE PROGRAM

Questions to Ask Yourself

Starting a child care program is a big undertaking. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Early educators spend long hours working with children and often do not interact with adults. Do you enjoy being with young children?
  • Family child care program owners typically work 10 hours a day with few breaks. Do you have the physical and emotional strength for this schedule?
  • Early educators juggle the responsibilities of talking with parents, nurturing children, preparing nutritious meals, keeping play areas clean and organized, and more. Are you organized? Can you multi-task?
  • Families will depend on you so they can work. Children will rely on you to care for and nurture them. Are you committed and reliable?
  • Early educators communicate with families regularly. Are you able to build strong relationships with families and set clear expectations for schedules, payment, and behavior?
  • Early educators work with diverse children and families. Can you celebrate and support the cultures and values of children and families that are different from your own?
  • Most family child care programs are located within a family home. Is your family willing to share your home with others? Have you thought about which areas of your home you will use?
  • Starting a new business can be challenging and financially risky. Are you ready for the potential challenges of starting a new business?
  • As a licensed program, you will have to follow state licensing standards. Are you comfortable with doing so?

 

For More Information

A plain-language guide to starting a licensed family child care program is available from the Department of Human Services. It provides information about the license application process and about what is required of licensed family child care programs.

Family child care programs are licensed by counties. A list of whom to contact in your county is maintained on the DHS website.

STARTING A CHILD CARE CENTER

Questions to Ask Yourself

Starting a child care program is a big undertaking. Here are some questions to consider.

  • Starting a new business can be challenging and financially risky. Are you ready for the potential challenges of starting a new business?
  • You will have to find a suitable location, build-out or renovate the indoor and outdoor space to meet state requirements, and work with your local zoning and building codes and inspection processes. Are you able to manage this kind of project?
  • As a licensed program, you will have to follow state licensing standards. Are you comfortable with doing so?
  • To run a child care center, you will need to hire, train, and supervise staff. Are you able to do this?
  • Families will depend on you so they can work. Children will rely on you to care for and nurture them. Are you committed and reliable?
  • Early educators communicate with families regularly. Are you able to build strong relationships with families and set clear expectations for schedules, payment, and behavior?
  • Early educators work with diverse children and families. Can you celebrate and support the cultures and values of children and families that are different from your own?

 

For More Information

In Minnesota, a child care provider is required by state law to obtain a license to operate a child care center unless the provider meets an exemption in state law. Licensure provides the necessary oversight to ensure child care is provided in a healthy and safe environment, by qualified people, and meets the developmental needs of all children in care.

More information about starting a licensed child care center is available on the Department of Human Services website.