ST. PAUL - If you've been thinking about starting your own child care business, but didn't know how to get started, there's some free help for you.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has put together a free manual on how to start a family child care business. It provides information on licensing, financing, state laws, child care resources, and more.

The agency was directed by the State Legislature last year to develop and publish the manual in response to a shortage of child care services in the state, especially in greater Minnesota. The number of licensed in-home family care providers decreased by 27 percent across the state between 2006 and 2015.

Earlier this year, DEED awarded grants totaling $500,000 to eight groups that will work to increase the number of child care providers. A second round of $500,000 in grants will be awarded later this year.