What are Minnesota’s child care assistance programs?

Child care assistance programs help families pay for child care while parents work, look for work, or go to school.

Who can get child care assistance?

There are three main groups who can get child care assistance:

How old can my children be?

Child care assistance is for children under age 12. This age limit is 14 for children with special needs.

Who can get MFIP / DWP Child Care Assistance?

The Minnesota Family Investment Program, or MFIP, is the state’s welfare reform program for low-income families with children. MFIP helps families move to work and focuses on helping families. It includes both cash and food assistance. When most families first apply for cash assistance, they will participate in the Diversionary Work Program, or DWP. This is a four month program that helps parents go immediately to work rather than receive welfare.

Some families may be referred to MFIP when they first apply for assistance or after they finish four months of DWP. MFIP helps families transition to economic stability. Parents are expected to work, and are supported in working. Most families can get cash assistance for only 60 months.

Is the Basic Sliding Fee (BSF) Child Care Assistance Program free?

No. You pay a small amount to be part of the program. This is called a copayment.

Who can get Basic Sliding Fee (BSF) Child Care Assistance?

Each county has its own income limits for the BSF program. Families who meet those income limits may qualify for the BSF program.

Does everyone who applies for Basic Sliding Fee (BSF) Child Care Assistance get on the program?

It depends. Counties have a limited number of spots, so your county might have a waiting list. Certain families get priority:


  • Families who used to be on the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP);
  • Families without a high school diploma who are getting job training;
  • Families in which at least one parent is a veteran; and
  • Families switching from another county’s BSF program.

I was on MFIP / DWP Child Care Assistance and now I’m on a BSF waiting list. Is there any way for me to get help paying for child care?

Yes. This is exactly the situation that Transition Year Child Care helps with.

How do I apply for child care assistance?

Contact your county human services agency to apply.