At-home daycare providers raise concerns over revised licensing standards

Cyndi Cunningham has owned and operated Growing Wings, a St. Paul in-home daycare, for more than 25 years.

"We are outside, we are in the yard, and it looks like home. They are in my dining room and my living room, it looks like a home," said Cunningham.

She also served on the task force that was formed to create revised licensing standards when it comes to at-home daycares in Minnesota, and says the proposal released Monday by the Department of Human Services (DHS) completely misses the mark.

"They cut and pasted [daycare] center law and put it in for us. We are not centers," said Cunningham. 

In 2021, state lawmakers passed legislation directing federal funding towards modernizing regulations when it comes to licensed in-home daycare and childcare centers. These standards haven't been significantly updated since the 1980s.

The new recommendations were recently unveiled with more than 80 pages of new and revised updates, including everything from the type of cleaning products providers can use, to the number toys each child must have, to requiring covering or soil testing if kids play outside near dirt.

Cunningham says it will cost thousands to implement the proposed changes, a cost that will have to be passed on to families at a time when affordable childcare is scarce. At-home daycare is often hundreds of dollars less than daycare centers.

Over the next few months, providers will be able to share their thoughts and opinions on the draft proposal with DHS. 

DHS Inspector General Kulani Moti provided FOX 9 with the following statement on the proposal: 

The 2021 Minnesota Legislature instructed DHS to develop revised licensing standards, which are ‘grounded in national regulatory best practices’ and ‘must protect the health and safety of children and be child-centered, family-friendly, and fair to providers.’ The current standards have not been significantly updated since the 1980s.

On Monday, DHS released a draft of these revised standards to the public for review and feedback, which will be gathered over the next few months.
Later this spring, we will launch an online survey, so anyone can provide formal feedback on the draft standards. This feedback is a crucial part of the project and will inform the next draft, which will be submitted to the Legislature during the 2025 legislative session. The final standards and implementation date will be informed by that process.

The project webpage on our public website includes a list of past opportunities for stakeholder engagement, as well as presentation slides for those sessions.

When it comes time to implement these updated standards, we will take the time to do it right and have clear resources, guidance, and training in place prior to implementation.