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. 

For those wishing to seek an exemption, TDHS has developed check sheets to guide you in making sure you have the required supporting documentation and information necessary to request an exemption. Select from the listed categories of exemption (see below) to select the corresponding check sheet. In addition, TDHS has developed an Exemption Request Form that you may use to submit your request if your program meets the criteria under § 71-3-503(c). 

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.

Click here for details on Programs and Facilities exempt from licensing

Exemption Form and Category-Specific Checksheets

(Complete the exemption request form and the corresponding exemption category checksheet.)

Exemption Request Form
Camp Programs
Educational Programs
Parent’s Day Out
Recreational Programs