Frequently Asked Questions for Providers


licensing rules are still in development.  Based on input given during the public comment period about the Draft State Child Care Plan, significant changes were made.  This document outlines current plans which will be reflected in proposed rule changes.  There will be public hearings and public comment available as part of the process.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Quality Assurance Division (QAD) handles licensing services for child care providers in Missoula, Mineral, and Ravalli County. Please call 406.444.047 or visit Child Care Licensing online.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Quality Assurance Division (QAD) in Helena mails out registration renewals 120 days prior to when they expire. The QAD requests that you submit your renewal application 90 days before the end of your current registration. Questions should be directed to QAD at 406.444.2037 or online.
Whether care is being provided on-site or away from the facility, directors and caregivers must properly supervise children and ensure that ratios are met at all times. Supervision requires “direct observation or active involvement.” Caregivers must be able to directly observe children at all times. Caregivers must be aware any play equipment or room furnishings which make observation difficult, and monitor these areas regularly. If multiple rooms are being used, a caregiver must be present in each room with the children.

Keeping accurate attendance records at all times is essential to ensure that all children are accounted for and that required ratios are met. It is the department’s recommendation that “head counts” be conducted every 15-30 minutes.

Cell phone use is a common problem that interferes with supervision. Caregivers who are texting or taking personal calls cannot adequately supervise children. Personal calls and texting should only occur during break times or when the caregiver is not counted in the ratios

Whether walking to a park or transporting children in a vehicle, it is important that additional precautions are taken to ensure safety and to meet regulations. Prior to transporting children in a vehicle, written consent from the parent or guardian must be on file at the facility. Children must be secured in age appropriate safety restraints whenever the vehicle is in motion. Per ARM 37.95.132(8), all vehicles must be equipped with children’s car seats or booster seats that meet federal Department of Transportation recommendations for the age and weight of the child being transported. Children must use a car seat or booster seat until they are at least 6 years of age and 60 pounds. Additionally, there should never be more than one child to a seatbelt.

Children should never be left unattended in a vehicle, not even for a minute! When the director or caregiver exits the vehicle, the children should also be taken out of the vehicle EVERY TIME. When unloading the vehicle, caregivers should conduct a head count or role call against the attendance records and check each seat in the vehicle to make sure a child was not forgotten in the vehicle.

It is important that all caregivers are aware of transportation policies and that extra precautions are taken while transporting children.

To avoid any incidents of leaving children behind while on a field trip, attendance should be taken prior to children leaving the facility, upon arrival at the destination and prior to returning to the facility as well as throughout the duration of the activity. Maintaining accurate attendance records during an outing is a critical step in ensuring that children are accounted for at all times.

When away from the facility caregivers must take an emergency contact form of each child and a fully stocked first aid kit.

Providers are responsible for the children in their care until the children are handed over to another adult, such as a bus driver, teacher, or parent. Make sure your contract with the parents specifies that you are no longer responsible for the children after you drop them off at another program. Clearly written policies within your contract will clarify who is responsible and when that responsibility ends.

Since providers are responsible for children until they are handed over to another adult, the provider must accompany children who walk to school or other programs. Staff/child ratios must be maintained. For example, a family home provider must take all the children in care along when walking a child to school. A group home caregiver would need to send half of the children with one adult.

Child Care Licensing recommends sprinklers or other forms of water play that do not collect water as standing water creates a greater risk. If wading pools are used, they may not exceed 24 inches of water depth. Wading pools must be filled only prior to use and once they are no longer being used, they should be emptied immediately and sanitized. Never allow a wading pool to sit with any amount of water in it. Be mindful of water that may be collected by rain and sprinklers. It takes only a small amount of collected water to become a danger to young children in care.

When using swimming pools, whether on-site or off-site of a day care facility, a certified lifeguard, who is not counted in the facility’s child to staff ratio, must always be present. Per ARM 37.95.127(8), the child-staff ratio shall be maintained whenever children participate in swimming activities, including swimming instruction. Having active and fully present caregivers are key factors in providing a safe environment. Regardless of the type of water activity, water play must ALWAYS be supervised.

Caregivers are responsible for ensuring that all children are adequately protected from exposure to sunlight in order to prevent sunburn. In order for caregivers to apply sunscreen or bug spray, parents must fill out the Over-the -Counter (OTC) Medication Form (LINK) available here. Caregivers should also ensure children are provided with fresh water so they are hydrated during play in the summer’s heat.
Providers must report accidents to QAD Child Care Licensing within 24 hours if children are taken to a doctor. This includes ambulance trips, urgent care, trips to the dentist, and parents picking children up and taking them to the doctor. Also, if the parents take the child to the doctor later as a result of something that happened at child care, it must be reported, even when the doctor finds no injuries.

QAD recommends that all incidents resulting in facial bruising be reported to QAD, even if there is no doctor visit. Parents often call the state to report accidents, so it is best if QAD has already received notice from the provider.


Child Care Resources offers many online courses which allow you to learn at you own pace, from the comfort of your home.  View our Course Catalog and register for online courses at
If your PS# or SS# is already being used, it means either you have already set up an account with us, or a Child Care Resources administrator has already created an account for you. Please contact Provider Services to get your login credentials.
The Montana Department of Labor advises that employees must be paid for the time they spend in training if it is required for their jobs.

Child and Adult Care Food Program

For CACFP purposes, an infant is a child who is less than one year of age. However, licensing defines an infant as a child who is less than nineteen months of age. This means a child who is one and half would not be an infant for the food program, but would be considered an infant by the licensors.
Each year, parents are required to sign a form stating that their children are in your care. Parents also need to update their current address and phone number.

Rather than completing new enrollment forms for all the children in your care, CCR will mail you a form listing each child’s name, date of birth, date of enrollment, and days and hours attending your facility. Please have parents update addresses and phone numbers, verify dates of birth, days children attend your facility, and drop off and pick up times. Parents must sign for each of their children.

If we do not have current parent signatures or complete information, we will have to discontinue reimbursement until complete paperwork is submitted; you will need to complete a full enrollment form to re-enroll the child(ren) on the food program. CCR mails re-enrollment forms, along with your food program checks in September. The completed forms are due back with your menus on October 2nd.

Meal patterns vary with the age of the child. You can get meal pattern charts from Child Care Resources’ food program staff. You can also get information from the USDA Child Care Food Program (CACFP) website.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recognized the non-food related cost of serving infants, and now allows reimbursement for meals containing only infant formula, whether supplied by the caregiver or the parent. You must, however, offer at least one iron-fortified infant formula to formula-fed infants in your care. The parents may choose to decline your offer and provide their own formula. You may now claim meals for infants of breast milk or iron-fortified infant formula, or both, whether the formula is supplied by you or the parent. You must, however, always offer the infant a complete, developmentally appropriate meal. For infants eight months to one-year-old, you must supply appropriate foods. The meal must also be served and fed to the infant by the caregiver. A mother breast-feeding at your site does not qualify.
Reimbursement for meals provided to children in child care on legal holidays will be made only when the provider submits parent-signed verification of holiday care. This verification should state they were working on the holiday and needed child care. Written notification should be attached to the appropriate monthly menus.

The following are legal holidays that require parent signatures: New Year’s Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, Fourth of July and Christmas Day.

  • Online menus submitted on Minute Menu.
  • Enrollment forms for new children.
  • Mealtime change forms, if needed.
  • Parent-signed documentation for holiday care, if needed.
You are required to turn in certain paperwork each year to remain on the Food Program. Before turning in your menus, decide if it is time to turn in any of the following:

  • The newest copy of your license.
  • The tiering form.
  • Re-enrollment forms.
The IRS announced that family child care providers may now choose standard meal allowance rates. You can get more information at the Think Small website.
Checks will be mailed on the 9th business day of the month and direct deposit will be transmitted on the 10th business day. Menus will continue to be due on the 2nd of every month.

We know that many of you rely on the food program reimbursement checks to purchase food and other child care supplies each month, and we pride ourselves in the ability to process menus and pay you quickly. We will continue to do the best job possible. However, if you do not submit your menus on time, your reimbursement may be delayed until the next month.

Once food has been brought to the table, it must be discarded because bacteria can lead to food contamination and food-borne illness. Most foods that were previously frozen can’t be refrozen and served again. The exception to this is frozen raw meat; it must be thawed, thoroughly cooked, not added to other items that have been previously frozen and not served to the table in order to be refrozen. Any food that has been left in the cooking container, was not previously frozen, was not served family style or on a child’s plate, can be frozen and served again.

If milk is served family-style at the table, the unused portion cannot be saved and served later. If milk is served to the table, it cannot be served again. One option is for providers to pour the proper serving sizes into glasses and put a small pitcher of milk on the table for any child who wants more. Then, if there is any milk remaining that cannot be served, it would only be a small amount. New milk cannot be added to old milk. CACFP prefers family style meals that allow children to take what they want, but enough must be made available so each child has the option to take a full serving size.

It is acceptable to freeze milk, thaw and serve under the following conditions:

  • When freezing, the milk must be labeled with the date it is being frozen.
  • Milk may be frozen for no more than one month.
  • Milk that has been frozen must be used within five days of being thawed.



Position vacancies can be posted at the Montana Early Childhood Project (ECP) Job Board.