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Families Types of Child Care

Types of Care and Education

Pick a program setting that best fits you and your child.

Child Care Centers and Preschools

These programs are licensed and monitored by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) or a Tribal licensing agency and provide care and education for children in age-based groups, either full-time or part-time.

Family Child Care Programs

Family child care programs are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and monitored by the county or Tribal licensing agency. Family child care providers may care for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children in their homes. Some family child care programs are also provided in commercial spaces, such as hospitals or churches.

Head Start and Early Head Start

Head Start programs support children’s growth from birth to age 5 through services that support early learning and development, health, and family well-being. Head Start staff actively engage parents, recognizing family participation throughout the program as key to strong child outcomes. These programs may be licensed or license-exempt, depending on the setting.

Other Types of Care

Family, Friends, or Neighbors

The caregiver cares only for related children or children from no more than one unrelated family. Family, Friend, or Neighbor (FFN) caregivers are a frequent choice for parents with infants and toddlers, parents in diverse cultural and ethnic communities, and parents working non-standard hour jobs. There are resources available to help these caregivers.

Legally Nonlicensed Providers

Family, friends, or neighbor care providers who register with the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) are referred to as legal nonlicensed providers. Legal nonlicensed providers are reimbursed for child care costs by CCAP and serve at least one unrelated child. They are monitored annually for compliance with health and safety requirements. Results of those visits are posted publicly on the Department of Human Services’ Legal Nonlicensed Provider Annual Monitoring page.

Drop-In Programs

This is short-term care provided for a few hours at a time. It is usually offered in shopping malls or community centers.