Becoming a Provider

Cieluch_Woman_smiling_baby_220In Montana, you can care for up to two unrelated children or all of the children from one family without being licensed. If you want to care for three or more children, you must be licensed. There are three categories of licensed child care in Montana: family child care, group child care and child care centers.

Family Child Care
One adult can care for up to six children; no more than three of the children may be under the age of two. Facility is often housed within the home of the individual child care provider.
Group Child Care
Two adults may care for up to 12 children; no more than six of the children may be under the age of two. Facility can be in the home of the primary child care provider or in another location.A family or group home may also be registered to allow some overlap time when they can take extra children during specific hours of the day, such as before and after school.
Child Care Center
Centers are licensed to care for 13 or more children based on the following staff ratios:

4:1 Infants 0-2 years
8:1 Children 2-3 years
10:1 Children 4-6 years
14:1 Children 6+ years

Child Care Centers usually operate in a facility outside of a person’s home. Typically children are arranged in rooms based on the age of the child, they have multiple staff, and a center director.

If you are interested in becoming a child care provider, please visit the Quality Assurance Division of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to find out the requirements for each type of child care environment.

After learning about how to become licensed, register for one of our free child care provider orientations.

Legally Certified Providers
Informal caregivers, typically family, friends and neighbors, who want to take care of a child who is eligible for the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Program, must apply trough the Quality Assurance Division (QAD). Applications are available online. Contact CCR if you want a paper application. For more information contact Alex at QAD at 406-444-0479, or email

Part-time programs do not have to be licensed in Montana. Preschools and school-age programs operating a few hours a day or only part of the year are exempt from licensing. Drop in care also falls in this category as well. Unlicensed programs may be excellent, however, they are not independently monitored, whereas licensed programs are monitored.