When do Adult Day Care Programs Need to be Licensed?

Mar. 02, 2018

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) requires certain services providers to be licensed, including childcare providers, adult care centers, chemical dependency treatment programs, and mental health clinics. DHS is also in charge of making sure these licensed providers comply with Minnesota rules and laws.


“Adult day care” services are programs that provide care for functionally impaired adults. They operate for less than 24 hours a day and offer individualized set of services for each participant. These coordinated services aim to improve or maintain a participant’s ability to care for him- or herself and often include social services, health services, and nutritional services. Adult day care services are different from programs where adults get together to socialize, practice religion, study, exercise, or consume nutritious meals, or where adults gather to give their caregivers a break while still being supervised.


In-home adult care (referred to as “family adult day services”) occurs when a licensee provides services in his or her home. He or she cannot serve more than eight adults at any one time. Adult day services that occur outside of the licensee’s home are called “adult day centers.” Adult day centers have requirements regarding:


  • Certain staff qualifications, training and orientation

  • Policies and procedures of the program

  • Programming that will identify individual needs of each participant

  • The rights of participants receiving services

  • Expectations of service to protect the health and safety of participants


Who qualifies as a functionally impaired person? There are two definitions of a functional impairment:


  1. A thought or mood disorder requiring support for a person to maintain her independence, because the disorder significantly impairs her behavior, judgment, ability to recognize reality, or capacity to deal with the ordinary demands of life.

  2. A condition that causes a person to have substantial difficulty in performing essential daily activities, including walking, seeing, breathing, learning, working, and caring for herself.


In addition to having a functional impairment, an adult care participant must be younger than 55 years old and cannot have a developmental disability or serious mental illness. Programs who service people with one of these characteristics are covered by other types of licenses, such as nursing homes and mental health programs.


All adult day care programs must be licensed, either by DHS or by the county. Family adult day services must follow the requirements under Chapter 245A (“Family Adult Day Services”) of the Minnesota Statues, and adult day centers must follow the requirements of “Rule 223” of the Minnesota Administrative Rules. To ensure compliance, DHS is responsible for monitoring licensed adult day centers. However, counties are responsible for the licensing and monitoring of family adult day services.

Written By:
John Saunders

John Saunders is an experienced real estate and business attorney. He focuses his practice on advising business owners and licensed professionals with succession planning and transitions as well as their general corporate matters.

Emilee Walters is our first Avisen Legal Fellow alum and a third-year law student at St. Thomas School of Law. Emilee is exploring a legal career in business law.

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