Procedures for Requesting an Exemption from Licensure

Any person or entity operating a child care agency in Tennessee must have a license from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) unless it is exempt from licensing under Tenn. Code Ann. § 71-3-503 (See, Tenn. Code Ann.  § 71-3-502(a)(1)). 

A “child care agency” is a place/program/facility “that provides child care to five (5) or more children who are not related to the primary caregiver for three (3) or more hours per day” (Tenn. Code Ann. § 71-3-501(4)). 

Persons operating a Parents’ Day Out program (Tenn. Code Ann. § 71-3-503(a)(6)) or Casual Care operation (Tenn. Code Ann. § 71-3-503(a)(9)) must register with TDHS before beginning operations. They must also meet recordkeeping and signage requirements (Tenn. Code Ann. § 71-3-503(b)).

Other exempt programs may, but are not required to, submit a written exemption request to TDHS (Tenn. Code Ann. § 71-3-503(e)). (ex. Recreational Programs, Educational Programs)

All requests for exemption, including Parent’s Day Out and Casual Care Programs must provide a “detailed description of the operation of the program or activity, the program’s or activity’s purpose and the applicant’s basis for claiming an exemption." TDHS will review the request and make a determination on whether to grant or deny the request based on the criteria in the law for each category of exemption, and then provide a written response to the request.

Every program claiming to be exempt under Tenn. Code Ann. § 71-3-503(a) must continually meet the criteria in the exempt category. If there have been any changes to the program since it was approved as exempt, you must submit an updated request. Exemptions are valid only at the program address to which they were granted. If your program relocates, you must also submit a new exemption request. Please submit requests and supporting documentation at least sixty (60) days prior to operation to allow time for TDHS review.

To apply for an Exemption please go to the Provider Portal: and follow the instructions on how to create an account and complete the application.

Click here for details on Programs and Facilities exempt from licensing