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Minnesota state officials seek to update child care provider licensing standards

Legislature looks to address rising child care costs
Legislature looks to address rising child care costs 04:55

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Department of Human Services is asking the public for feedback on the first significant update to childcare licensing standards since the 1980s.

In 2021, the Minnesota Legislature passed legislation that will allocate federal funding to update licensing procedures for family child care and child care centers.

Using methods developed by the National Association for Regulatory Administration, NARA, DHS and stakeholders will evaluate current licensing standards and propose updates to procedures. 

What's being evaluated?

The evaluation will focus on reviewing key indicator systems for abbreviated inspections, risk-based tiered violation systems and revised licensing standards, says DHS. 

Currently, licensed child care providers are monitored annually for compliance with licensing standards. However, a provider may qualify for an abbreviated inspection and receive a shorter review that is focused on a specific subset of standards under proposed updates. 

Creation of a tiered violation system

NARA also aims to work with stakeholders to develop a tiered system that is weighted to reflect the level of risk that a violation poses to children. 

According to DHS, the proposed system will include enforcement mechanisms that will also be tiered, linking the severity of the licensing action to the potential risk of harm to the child. 

Once the system is adopted by the state, this system, which will be weighted based upon severity of harm, probability of harm, and frequency of the violation, will replace the existing violation system, says the DHS. 

Updates to licensing standards

Using data and experience in other states, the NARA will work with child care providers, county licensing agencies, DHS, and other child care stakeholders to develop the updated licensing standards.  

The last time any changes have been made to licensing practices in Minnesota was in the 1980s.  

The two other components of these projects will dovetail into the process for updating standards for licensure by using data from risk-based tiered violation system and the key indicator system analysis to inform whether or not current standards are adequate. 

"We are committed to a genuine, deliberate approach to implementing any new child care licensing standards," said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. "This is an opportunity to modernize Minnesota regulations in a way that improves the clarity of our regulations for providers while assuring health and safety for children."  

In-person listening sessions for child care providers, licensors and the public will take place throughout June and July. Times, dates and locations can be found here. RSVPs are requested.  

NOTE: The video attached to this article originally aired on March 20, 2024. 

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