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Operating a Licensed Family Daycare: A necessary service and small business opportunity

Jul 8

Written by:
7/8/2015 2:49 PM  RssIcon

The following article was written by Karen Mehelich (left), Social Services Specialist in the Family Daycare Unit for St. Louis County.

Would you like to be your own boss and operate your own small business? Would you enjoy working from home, playing with kids all day, including your own? Most importantly, do you love children? If you answered “yes” to these questions, opening a licensed family daycare may be the right move for you.

St. Louis County's family daycare unit is responsible for recruiting, licensing and monitoring family daycare providers throughout the County. Currently there are 259 active, operating family daycares in St. Louis County, including 15 new licenses that were added in 2014. This does not include daycare centers, which are licensed by the Department of Human Services.

The process of becoming a licensed family daycare provider begins with attending a mandatory orientation. These orientations are free to attend and are held monthly, alternating between Duluth and Virginia. The orientations last about three hours and are facilitated by experienced licensors, who can answer applicants' questions and provide a thorough overview of the licensing rules and expectations. The interested party will then receive the application and background study paperwork needed to continue the process.

There is an initial application fee of $50. There is also a $25 fee for each background study needed on anyone 13 years and older in the household, to a maximum of $100. So the maximum amount of money due to the County for initial application would be $150. There may be additional fees if a fire marshal inspection is required and for completing the required pre-service training.  In addition, sometimes an applicant needs to make changes to the property, such as installing a fence, before the application is approved, and of course, these changes can cost money. Child Care Aware offers grants to help cover some of these start-up expenses.

It is difficult to say exactly how much time will pass from initial application to approval. On average, the process takes anywhere from six weeks to four months, depending on the situation of the applicant. Changes needed to the property can slow the process. Also, the required training classes are not offered every month and the classes can fill up, so completing the training can also hold things up.


Aunty's Day Care in West Duluth is one of 259 active, licensed daycares in St. Louis County.

If you know someone who loves children and may be interested in operating a licensed family daycare in St. Louis County, have this person contact me, Karen Mehelich, in the daycare unit at (218) 726-2252.  I can answer many questions and also get the interested party signed up for an orientation.  I am often asked if there is a need for more licensed family daycares in the county. My answer is an enthusiastic YES! There is always a need for high quality family daycares in our area. By providing good quality daycare programs, providers are not only offering a much needed service to local families, but they can also fulfill their dreams of running their own businesses and being their own bosses.


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