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Early Childhood Services in North Dakota

Answers To Questions Parents Ask

What types of child care are available?

In North Dakota, child care is provided by both licensed and unlicensed providers. Individuals can become licensed to provide Family Child Care in their private homes. Other licensed providers include Child Care Centers, Preschools, School-Age Programs, and Multiple License Facility. Licensed Group Child Care can be provided in a private home or facility. Unlicensed child care providers include relatives, self-declared child care providers, and registered providers. See tables below.

Types Of Licensed Child Care Providers

Type Of Care Location Maximum Enrollment* Number Of Programs In N.D.* Capacity
Family Care Provider's home 6-7 children or 4 infants, plus 2 school aged children 407 2,828 children
Group Care Provider's home or public or private facility 30 or fewer children 962 13,310
Centers Public or private facility 19 or more children 125 9,871
Preschools Public or private facility 19 or more children 63 1,489
School-Age Care Public or private facility 19 or more children 54 3,257


  • Licensing is required when care is provided for four or more infants or six or more children at one time. Data are from September 2008.
  • Enrollment number determined by space available.

Types Of Unlicensed Child Care Providers

Type Of Care Location Maximum Enrollment Number Of Programs In N.D.* Capacity
Self-declared* Provider's home 5 or fewer or 3 infants 450 4,503 children
Approved Relative* Provider's home 5 or fewer or 3 infants 768 1,704
Registered Providers* May vary by Tribe Varies by Tribe 180** 515**


Data are from February 2005

  1. *Self-Declaration is a voluntary process. This provider designation was created to allow parents access to the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps low-income families with the child care costs. These unlicensed child care providers self certify that they comply with a few health and safety standards. They are not inspected or monitored unless county officials receive a complaint.
  2. *Approved Relative Providers are also eligible to participate in the Child Care Assistance Program. By federal law, the 'approved' relatives must be related by marriage, blood relationship or court order and include: grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles. A sibling who is age 18 or older and who does not live in the same home as the children for whom care is being provided, can also become an approved relative. All adults living in the home are checked against the "North Dakota Office of Attorney General, Convicted Sex Offenders and Offenders Against Children-Public List." These providers are not monitored.
  3. *Registered Providers are also eligible to participate in the Child Care Assistance Program. These providers are generally registered by Tribal entities. The definition or "registered provider" may vary by Tribe. **These numbers indicate the number of registered providers to whom the State Child Care Assistance Program was making payments in September 2008. There may be many more registered providers.

See additional information about Licensing Information and Regulations.

What characteristics are most desirable in a child care provider?

  • passion for nurturing and caring for children
  • desire to help children learn
  • desire to increase own knowledge of child development, health and safety, and business operations
  • self-motivated, energetic, and enthusiastic personality
  • sense of satisfaction when working with children
  • creative, organized, and committed
  • good communication skills
  • ability to patiently interact with children and families

What does it mean if a child care provider is licensed?

Choosing a child care provider is one of the most important decisions families make. Licensed child care providers are regulated, meet minimum health and safety standards, and are monitored for ongoing compliance by county social services and receive a background check. Licensed child care providers also have requirements for programming and ongoing training. Before a provider can be licensed, a provider must have a current card for completion of CPR and first aid training.

Licensed providers are eligible to participate in the child and adult food program, which provides information about and reimbursement for serving nutritious meals and snacks. The county licenser has information regarding local food programs.

How many children can be cared for in a home?

A child care provider must not exceed the maximum number allowed by the provider's license or by the law. (See tables above.) There must be at least 35 square feet of usable indoor space per child for licensed providers. An average home is usually adequate.

How can I find a child care provider for my children?

Parents can use a variety of resources to find a child care provider. They often ask friends and family members for referrals, contact providers listed in telephone directories and in advertisements, or contact Child Care Aware (formerly known as Child Care Resource and Referral.) The Child Care Aware program is funded by the state to provide parents with information and assistance in locating licensed child care providers.

Once a parent had decided on a potential provider or providers, the parent should contact their county social serivce office for a summary of that provider's regulatory history, including any concerns or corrective actions.

How can I find out if I qualify for help in paying for child care expenses?

The Child Care Assistance Program helps low-income families by assisting with the cost of child care while parents are working or participating in training or education programs. See additional information on child care assistance.

How do I file a complaint about a child care provider?

To file a concern or complaint against a child care provider, parents should complete the Child Care Concern Form (SFN1269) and then submit it to their county social service office. Parents can also call their county social service office if they have a concern or complaint.


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