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Childcare Facilities and License Exemptions

December 23, 2020
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Jill Barnas

Childcare facilities are a necessity; such facilities provide a safe and healthy environment for children of working parents, in addition to having an important role in child development; however, different types of facilities statewide are subject to varying levels of rules and regulations. Childcare facilities are to be licensed through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and regulated through the Department of Social Services (DSS). All faith-based facilities and childcare facilities of no more than 6 children are exempt from licensure (RSMo 210.211). DSS has very little oversight on licensed-exempt childcare facilities until a report of child abuse or neglect is made.


  • Licensed childcare options are limited; licensed-exempt facilities may provide accessible and affordable childcare options to families of low socio-economic status and underserved communities.
  • State licensing focuses on health and safety concerns in childcare programs; it is not meant to influence a facility's secular or faith-based missions and teaching practices.


  • Of the substantiated child abuse and neglect claims, there are no data to reflect which percentage come from licensed and licensed-exempt facilities.
  • There is little information on the demographics of children attending licensed and licensed-exempt facilities.
  • There are no data to illustrate the landscape of licensed-exempt facility types (short vs. long-term care) in Missouri.
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