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Early Childhood Services in North Dakota

Answers To Frequently Asked Questions For Prospective And Current Child Care Providers

Taking care of other people's children is an important business. Some people are more suited for this profession than others. As a child care provider, you will need to have the skills to care for children on a daily basis.

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
  • creative, organized, and committed
  • good communication skills
  • ability to patiently interact with children and families

Things to consider before deciding to become a child care provider:

Are you physically and emotionally capable?

You need to be prepared to be attentive to children's needs for 8 to 10 hours a day, and you should be physically capable of lifting children. It also helps to be self-motivated and to have good communication skills.

Is there a need for child care in your area?

You will want to tailor your business to meet the needs of families in your area. To find out about the supply of and demand for child care in your neighborhood or town, call your Child Care Resource and Referral office.

What is the potential income?

Planning a preliminary budget for your child care business is very important. The most effective approach to determine your income is to estimate the number of children you will be caring for and to multiply that number by the rates you will be charging.

Child Care Resource and Referral can provide you with information about the average rates licensed child care providers in your area charge and can assist you with budget planning.

What impact will your business have on your family?

Since child care happens in your home, your children and spouse may feel that their home no longer seems their own. A successful in-home business starts with communication within your family.

Do providers have to be licensed?

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 children under 24 months 390 3,327 children
Group Care Provider's home or public or private facility 18 or fewer children 852 11,821
Centers Public or private facility 19 or more children 96 7,454
Preschools Public or private facility 19 or more children 67 1,589
School-Age Care Public or private facility 19 or more children 53 3,657
Multiple License Public or Private Usually 19 or more children 48 5,595


  • Licensing is required when care is provided for four or more infants or six or more children at one time. Data are from May 2010.
  • 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 children under 24 months 534 2,678 children
Approved Relative* Provider's home 5 or fewer or 3 children under 24 months 526 1,154
Registered Providers* May vary by Tribe Varies by Tribe 116** 360**


Data are from May 2010

  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 declare 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 February 2005. There may be many more registered providers.

See additional information about Licensing Information and Regulations.

What are the benefits of becoming a child care provider?

As a child care provider, you will be your own boss and can set your own hours and daily schedule. You will also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are providing a valuable service to your community. If you have children, they will benefit by learning to share and care for others. You can also expand your tax deductions by reporting expenses for toys, equipment and supplies, as well as some of the upkeep on your home.

By becoming a licensed child care provider, you can reassure parents that your facility is regulated, meets at least the minimum health and safety standards, and is monitored for ongoing compliance by county social services. As a licensed child care provider, you can also discuss with parents the programming and ongoing training requirements. By obtaining a license, you may be able to increase your ability to care for more children depending on their ages, your desires and space requirements.

What does licensing involve?

It will involve a licensing study of your home by the county licenser to determine if you meet the minimum health and safety standards (rules and regulations). You may be required to have a fire inspection.

How much does it cost to become licensed?

An annual fee of $20 or $25 is charged, depending on your license classification.

Do you need special training to be a licensed child care provider?

Before you are licensed, you must have a current card for completion of CPR and first aid training. In addition, each licensed home child care provider, dependent on the type of license, is required to obtain a minimum of either 9 or 10 hours of county-approved training each year. The total number of hours depends on your license type. Your county licenser will discuss this at orientation.

Child Care Resource and Referral will notify you of training opportunities. Training will help you:

  • Help children develop self-control and empathy for others
  • Plan appropriate activities to promote children's learning
  • Maintain a high level of positive verbal interaction with children
  • Facilitate the development of self-esteem in children
  • Help children resolve conflicts by problem solving
  • Respond promptly and directly to children's needs

How do you apply for a license?

Contact your county social service office to receive information and an application. Counties hold orientation sessions for prospective licensed child care providers. Check with your local county licenser for orientation dates, times and locations in your area.

How do you qualify for the food program?

If you are licensed, you are eligible to participate in the child and adult food program, which provides information and reimbursement for serving nutritious meals and snacks in your program. Your county licenser has information regarding local food programs. Contact the food program of your choice for more details.

How many children can be cared for in your home?

You decide for yourself how many children you want to care for in your home. However, you must not exceed the maximum number allowed by your license. There must be at least 35 square feet of usable indoor space per child if you are a licensed provider. An average home is generally adequate. Your county licenser can discuss the numbers allowed depending on the square footage and local ordinances.

As a child care provider, can you have pets?

Yes. Child care providers can have pets if the pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations and meet all the rules and regulations. Please contact your local county licenser for further information.

Do you need to fence your yard?

If your yard is close to busy streets or other hazardous areas, fencing is necessary to protect the children. Contact your local county licenser for further information.

How do parents access your licensed child care service?

You will want to contact a Child Care Resource and Referral office as soon as you are licensed. They will add your business information into the referral database. By doing so, your program will be promoted through the referral service. There is no fee for licensed child care providers to participate in the Child Care Referral System. Your county licenser will also inform the Child Care Resource and Referral office that you have become licensed.

When parents call the Child Care Resource and Referral office looking for licensed child care, they will discuss with a staff member their family's preference for the location, hours of operation, number and ages of children, and special program services. The family's care preferences will be entered into a computer that generates the names and phone numbers of the licensed child care providers who match the family's specific requests. The licensed child care providers' names will be given to the parents using the referral service. As the consumer shopping for child care, the parents will use the list to contact licensed child care providers to schedule interviews and pre-visits.

What do providers need to know about the Child Care Assistance Program?

To participate in the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps low-income families meet their child care expenses, a child care provider must be at least 18 years of age, an approved relative, self-declared child care provider, registered child care provider, or licensed child care provider. Providers must complete and send a W-9: Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification to the North Dakota Department of Human Services at 600 E. Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck ND 58505-0250. The provider's name must match the name on the provider's Social Security Card. Child care assistance checks cannot be forwarded.

If a provider moves, it invalidates the provider's self-certification or license. If the provider moves out of the county, it may invalidate the provider's approved relative status.

Where do you find resources and support for your new in-home licensed child care business?

Your Child Care Resource and Referral office can help you in many ways, including:

  • Lending libraries of equipment, books and videos
  • Data on current demand for child care to assist in program planning
  • When available, information on start up grants and training scholarships
  • Assistance in filling vacancies when enrolled in the referral system

More Information

To request more information about becoming a licensed child care provider, please contact Child Care Resource and Referral, or contact your regional child care licenser at your county social service office.


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