Help Paying for Child Care


The Minnesota Department of Human Services has Child Care Assistance Programs for low-income families needing assistance to help pay for child care to support employment, job search, and remedial and postsecondary education that will lead to employment.

There are different programs that families may be eligible for based on a variety of eligibility criteria. They are the Early Learning Scholarships, MFIP/DWP Child Care Assistance, Transition Year Child Care Assistance, and Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance.


Early Learning Scholarships

The Early Learning Scholarships give families financial support to help pay for high-quality early care and education to prepare their young children for school.

The scholarship amount is up to $7,500 for a 12 month period. The Early Learning Scholarship must be used at a Minnesota child care or early learning program that is a Parent Aware rated program.

If you need help finding a high quality program we can help you choose one that meet your family needs and the developmental needs of your child. And we’ll help you know what quality care looks like, how to find it, and how to partner with providers and teachers to make the most of your child’s experience during these important early years.

Click here for an application and instructions on how to apply.

Early Learning Scholarships are provided through a grant from the MDE with funds from Minnesota State Appropriation 124D.165.


MFIP/DWP Child Care Assistance

This program serves families that receive cash and/or food portion benefits through either the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) or the Diversionary Work Program (DWP). In order to be eligible for child care assistance through this program an employment plan must be created with an employment services worker. This program is fully funded and has no waiting lists.


Transition Year Child Care Assistance

Families that left MFIP/DWP Financial Assistance within the last twelve months are served by this program. This program only supports working parents or parents needing care in order to look for a job. Transition Year Child Care Assistance cannot pay child care while parents attend any type of education program. In order to be eligible for Transition Year Child Care Assistance families must have received MFIP/DWP financial benefits for a least three out of the last six months prior to the benefits ending. This program is fully funded and has no waiting lists.


Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance

This program serves families that do not meet criteria for MFIP/DWP or Transition Year Child Care Programs and need child care assistance to support employment, job search, or remedial and postsecondary education. This program is not fully funded and may have a waiting list.

Contact the human services office in your county to determine which Child Care Assistance program you may be eligible for.  If the county has no funding for the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program, you can ask to be placed on the waiting list.


Think Small administers the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program for Ramsey County Residents.

If you live in Ramsey County and would like assistance in understanding which Child Care Assistance Program you may be eligible for, call the Intake Screening Line at 651-641-6665.  If you don’t live in Ramsey County contact your county’s human service program.
If you are currently receiving Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance through Think Small, the forms below are available for your convenience. 
Child Care Assistance Provider Information Form 
Child Care Assistance Employment Verification Form 
Redetermination Form — coming soon


Do you have questions? Call your county’s program.

County Child Care Assistance Program MFIP, DWP, or  Transition Year programs
Anoka 763-717-7711 763-717-7730
Carver 952-361-1721 952-361-1710
Dakota 651-554-5611 651-554-5611
Hennepin 612-348-5937 612-596-1300
Ramsey 651-641-6665 651-266-4444
Scott 952-496-8686 952-496-8686
Washington 651-430-6459 651-430-6459


Additional information to help understand Child Care Assistance Programs in Minnesota: