Become a Child Care Provider

The first step in becoming a child care provider is to determine which type of care setting you wish to provide:

  • Child Care Center

A center serves 13 or more children, with a staff-to-child ratio based on the age of the children.  State law requires child care centers to be licensed by the Department's Child Care Licensing Program.  Before school, drop-in , after-school, and preschool programs are not required to be licensed.

Licensing staff inspect centers twice a year.  Health and fire officials visit once a year,  The center director is required to be educated or experienced in early care and education.  All caregivers who work 160 hours or more a year are required to attend eight hours of annual training.  Center directors are required to attend 15 hours of annual training.  Directors and caregivers are also required to have certification in CPR and First Aid.

  • Group Home

Two adults provided care for 7-12 children, with a limit of six under the age of 2.  Group homes must be registered with the Child Care Licensing Program.  The providers must complete a self assessment checklist of health, safety, and childcare program regulations.  They also must attend a child care orientation session within 60 days of registration.

  • Family Home

Care is offered in a homelike setting, usually the caregiver's residence.  In a family home, a caregiver cares for up to six children at a time, with no more than three under the age of 2.  Family child care homes must be registered with the Child Care Licensing Program

  • Legally Certified Provider

In this more informal type of care, a parent or legal guardian selects an individual-often a family member, friend, or neighbor- to care for all children in one family or up to two unrelated children.  Legally Certified Providers must pass Montana and FBI criminal background checks and Child Protective Services background checks but are not otherwise regulated or monitored by the State of Montana.


For more information about becoming a child care provider, contact the Department's Child Care Licensing Program at (406) 444-2012.